Who should be attending the bride on the way to the church?

I am not going to make any friends with this particular posting.    But as a couple you really need to know exactly how to achieve the best shots at your wedding – and understand that some stuff is totally outside the control of your photographer.  

With that knowledge you can make decisions beforehand which will affect the look of your wedding photographs – if it is really important to you and if your photography is your priority.  And even though I may think pictures are important it isn’t necessarily the case for everyone.  I understand that  – really I do!  But finding out that things could have looked better by seeing it on your wedding photographs – well, by that time, its just too late.

Last year I photographed two weddings where I felt particuarly frustrated at the shots I couldn’t get.  At the first wedding I didn’t manage to get any shots of the bride arriving at the church door without the car company drivers in attendance. It was a beautiful wedding, lots of emotion and a very pretty church and angelic-looking kids.   An excellent wedding car company, two lovely drivers – but why did they feel the need to take on this ‘role’ at the wedding when there were bridesmaids around who could have done the job perfectly well?  And, sorry to say,  more prettily!

A group of bridesmaids lifting the skirts of the bride’s dress in a lovely procession to the church door is a beautiful moment to capture on camera – it has all the key people you need in there too.  So don’t allow the job to  be done by someone that you’ve only met once or twice – unless you really don’t care. 

At the second wedding the bride walked downstairs to greet her father – his first viewing of his daughter in all her glory – and there in the background the wedding coordinator smiling up at the camera.  Aaagh!  And no matter where I stood during those few moments,  I could not crop out the unnecessary personnel.   So frustrating, as I know that when it comes to your wedding albums, none of those shots will be chosen to go in your final selection.  In fact I don’t even bother putting them in the preview books these days.

As a B&G its up to you both to decide just how much attention you want from your suppliers on the day.  I know of florists who insist on being at the church to instruct on how to hold the bouquet.  Couldn’t that be sorted out at a pre-wedding meeting?   Drivers who insist on the ‘car shot’ with them in it?  Toastmasters who are more interested in the photo for their website than managing the crowds at your wedding.   

Go away, people!  This is an intimate moment – not a marketing opportunity!     

And the really good suppliers – these are the companies and venues that just get on with their jobs and don’t feel the need to dominate.  Their products and services speak loudly for themselves.  In fact, I’ve known businesses lose work because they are so ‘in-your-face’. 

I don’t have a particular gripe against wedding car companies – I have serious doubts about any wedding suppliers other than the photographer, the minister/registrars and possibly,  just possibly, the wedding coordinator at a hotel being present on the photographs in any major way.  I don’t understand why a wedding supplier might consider it to be part of their job description or why they would even want it   (I feel I have failed if I appear on any of the wedding shots when shooting as a team – I want to be invisible!).

So, just to reiterate….decide how much of a role you want your other suppliers to take.  If you have no problem with them appearing on your shots then just go with the flow and don’t be disappointed if you don’t get the shots you may have hoped for (Actually it may be that they are such a part of your day that you want shots of them anyhow).

But if you want to avoid this situation and get the pictures you want and that look nicest  – overcome your embarrassment and tell your drivers/florists/cakemaker etc that you want them to keep a low profile!

Hope I haven’t offended anyone here but sometimes you’ve just got to tell it how it is.   My customers don’t see the things that I do until they’re looking at their photos and by then its too late to do anything about it.  Only then do they realise why I risk life and limb by making posts like this!

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When should I book my wedding photographer?

This is just a quick post and I may not get much chance to add some photos so forgive me in advance.

Book your wedding photographer (and your cars incidentally) as soon as you have sorted out your dates, booked the church and/or venue.  Obviously it depends on the state of your funds at the time but it should be the item that gets sorted after these other priorities.  Then comes any entertainment if you specifically want a particular person or act – in fact, if its that important to you I’d book this at the same time as you book photographers and cars. 

Invitations, flowers, cakes, venue dressing, make-up, hair, formal wear etc etc can all come later.  Dresses tend to be an emotional purchase but unless you see the dress of your dreams give yourself a little time so that you can investigate what’s available as thoroughly as possible.  I always think, if you can afford it, its worthwhile checking out wedding dress suppliers in London so you can get a much more up-t0-date idea of what is available.  Local dress shops can sometimes, though not always, carry stock which isn’t necessarily of the moment and maybe a little more middle-of-the-road.

All of this depends upon how close your wedding date is.  For a wedding in 2010,  you ought to have booked cars, photos and entertainment by now and be committing yourself to the rest too.  For a wedding in 2011, you can leave the second phase ie: invites etc. until this time next year.

And just be warned.  None of your suppliers will consider a verbal agreement as a binding contract.  Until you have returned the completed paperwork and paid a booking fee it won’t be considered a proper booking.  All wedding professionals will work on a first-come-first-served basis and won’t turn down another booking for your date until they have all the relevant paperwork in their hands.

Don’t wear rose-tinted specs about this or you might be disappointed.