You’ll find a thousand tips in as many magazines and web sites – some useful, others seem to have been dreamt up by someone who’s never attended one! My Top Tips are based on years of real experience and will help you get better pictures.
1) On the day, relax and let all the professionals around you worry about making everything go to plan.
2) Act like Film Stars (because you will be!) and wear your clothes like your favourite jeans. We do all we can to keep your dresses and suits as clean as possible but remember, they have to touch the floor at some time. . . and floors are never clean. Pictures often look best on grass, but grass can often be damp or dirty. We carry water- proof sheets to help protect your clothes and velvet to sit down on. Don’t forget, though, it’s a single-use dress – let it ‘make your day’ not ‘break your day!’
3) If you’re having a car, check to see if a drink is included with your deal, and that it will be kept chilled ready for you. Hot champagne after a long, dry ceremony doesn’t ‘hit the spot’. If it’s not included, a half bottle of bubbly and a couple of glasses in a small cool box is a great idea. It’ll lift your spirits and make for some great pictures by and in the car.
4) Confetti – don’t leave it to chance. We’ve seen a number of disappointed brides when only a couple of guests have turned up with tiny boxes of confetti. Why not photocopy some sheet music onto A4 sheets of paper. Make cones out of the sheets and buy one big bag of confetti to fill the cones with. Distribute them well and then ‘duck’! Most church’s will onlylet you use confetti outside the church grounds and most venues insist on Bio-degradable confetti (Please check your venue allows confetti indoors somewhere, if wet).
5) What about bubbles? They’re great for pictures (indoors), and occasionally outdoors when there’s not too much breeze. They look particularly good just as you come out of the ceremony (so get your ushers blowing!) But two bottles are not enough. Get at least a box of twenty and have some fun!
6) Build in time to relax and mingle with friends and family before the wedding breakfast, either with a post-ceremony drink or on arrival at the reception. During this time it’s worth the bride and groom staying together – it often gives impromptu opportunities for quick informal pictures of your close friends and family.
7) The Receiving Line – still popular at around half the weddings we attend. Remember, you don’t have to have one if you don’t want one. Some hotels do try to insist you have one, as they ‘always do it that way’. If you are having one, you’ll need to build in more time before you get to eat, particularly if it’s a line-up on arrival at the hotel before the photos are taken. Bear in mind, with eight people in the line and a hundred guests, that’s 736 handshakes and hugs. Allow at least half an hour. Some people prefer to have a ‘greeting’ with just the bride and groom. This is obviously quicker.
8) With many photographers, now, you get a web gallery. With us, it goes ‘live’ less than a week after your wedding – so you can see a selection of your pictures on honeymoon. Don’t forget to let your guests know where they can see the pictures too! This can be printed on your invitations, the back of your Order of Service or on the reverse of the place name cards, which are often kept
9) Seeing Clearly! Some couples, who wear glasses, choose their wedding day – or just before – to start wearing contact lenses. Contacts are great for photographs – but red eyes are a ‘no, no’. Get used to your contacts well before the day.
10) Bridesmaids and Ushers. It’s a job – not just a ‘free suit’. A Bride needs a Bridesmaid! . . . to help with the dress, the bouquet, the veil, the make-up and sometimes even the loo! Try and have a least one adult Bridesmaid who is able to be with you from the time you get ready until you start your Wedding Breakfast. Ushers can really help with any wedding of forty or more guests and are essential once you get to over fifty. Again, you need helpful ones that know it’s a job and that they will be needed to get your guests in the right place at the right time.
11) Best Man – nuff said! . . . the rings, the speech and, in the absence of any ushers, a help to the hotel and the photographer in getting your guests in the right place.
12) The Cake. Check, particularly if you have a marquee or unusual venue, that there is a special table for the cake, and that it’s level. You’ll also need a ‘fancy’ knife to pretend to cut the cake (a sword also looks good – even if you’re not in the Services). You wouldn’t believe some of the knives we’ve been offered at some venues over the years!
13) Flowers. Simple is always beautiful. See my list of favourite florists. They’re not always the most expensive by any means. On the day, try to re-use some of your flowers, particularly those on display at the ceremony venue (pew/chair decorations can be gathered up by a willing guest and reused around a doorway or on a staircase at the Reception venue. The same goes for bay trees in pots.
14) Keep Smiling! It’ll be hard not to because it’s such a great day! Remember though, the more relaxed the photographic style you’re looking for, the more time you need to allow to capture those wonderful expressions. And if you want funny pictures, you’d better plan to do some fun things!
15) Make-up. It’s always best to have an experienced wedding make-up artist to do all the make-up and hair for all the girls (and don’t forget the Bride’s Mum!) She will know how to make you look the best for your photographs with make-up that will last all day. Most offer a free or special-price trial. Try a couple and find one you really like.