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!


Lytham Hall Wedding Fair

Yesterday we exhibited at the Lytham Hall Wedding Fair which had been organised by Paul Rowley (of Rowley’s Catering and The Lindum Hotel) and his band of helpers – including the staff of Lytham Hall themselves and Jane at Flower Design.  Paul, being mercilessly tormented by his happy band of followers, is below.

There were loads of people I knew there and it was lovely to see some old friends and some new ones like Cheryl (below) from Too Nice To Slice.  Cheryl is organising a wedding fair at The White Church in Fairhaven, Lytham in October and I’m delighted to have been included in it.  It should be quite an interesting show, with it taking place in a church.

She had some great cakes and particularly liked the one in the foreground with the hydrangeas.  I love hydrangeas and peonies and full blown roses – all the blowsey flowers of summer.

We had enquiries for weddings in the Lakes and in London as well as a bit closer to home – so that is exciting!  There was one couple getting married abroad and I did my very best to persuade them to take  me with them!   Please note – I am happy to photograph weddings abroad.  Very happy.  Deliriously happy…. so please, someone book me to photograph your wedding.  Provided its somewhere hot – I wouldn’t be so happy to photograph your wedding in, say, Iceland. (Although actually, I would, because it would be fun! But you all know how I love the heat….)

This lady here, (I’m sorry Missus, I can’t remember your name but your husband is Mike and he did our double glazing!!)  makes delicious fudge and her company  supplies places like Harrods.  I must admit I do like fudge – there is a fabulous place in Grange-over-Sands that does beautiful chocolate fudge and I used to go there as a little girl.  So having Roly’s in Lytham is bliss to me!

This is Mo and Kelvin from Cloud’s Cars.  We do a lot of weddings with these two and other drivers that belong to their company.  There are a few weddings on this blog, like Jodie and Lee’s and Lauren and Peter’s that feature their cars.  

Because I’m not the sort of photographer who likes doing  The Car Shot or The Cake Shot kind of work (if you’re in tune with me you’ll know exactly what I’m talking about!) I don’t tend to get a lot of shots of suppliers in my photographs.  This is how I think it should be – a wedding is not an advertising opportunity for various different suppliers, if I’m being honest.  But sometimes I think that’s a bit mean – because people like Kelvin and Mo do a great job, really care about their customers and their cars look very nice.

So here are a few photographs of the catwalk show, some of the other exhibitors and a sad little picture of me talking to some of the people that visited my stand yesterday.  (Martyn is a wonderful photographer – and it is he that was taking the pictures yesterday BUT…when it comes to photographs of me I just wince.  Its a woman-getting-middle-aged thing.

This is the lovely lady from Sapphire Designs above – you can’t really see the invitations she designs very well.  But they were very classic and elegant – I am quite keen on pure typography as I trained as a designer and I just like the look of words and letters and how they sit together (I know – its a bit sad!).  And a lot of her invitations were just typography with a bit of glam thrown in.  Very nice and worth checking out.

The catwalk show was put on by Dreamcatcher in Kirkham.  They have some lovely dresses but I was disappointed that my favourite Audrey Hepburn dress wasn’t being modelled – I mentioned it in a previous blog.

The Hall was dressed beautifully by Jane and Jason and their team at Flower Design in St. Annes.  We no longer work very much with them – in fact I can’t remember a wedding that Fotoamour did with their team last year – but there is no doubt that they are very good at floristry.  Really liked the mismatched tea service that they used to dress the tables.  Flowers were good too – you can see some of them in the catwalk pictures.

Howard Wing is a singer that I haven’t had much contact with – generally now I tend to have left the proceedings before the singer starts their stint in the evening.  So I had heard a lot about Howard but not met him.  What a really nice bloke he is – really unassuming.  And you know how I like people who are not always wittering on about how fantastic they are.  So do,  please, consider Howard if you are thinking of booking someone for your reception.  He is a great singer.  And just really nice with it.

And finally …. here I am.  In full flow.  Talking. Talking. Talking.  I try and get bookings  by beating people verbally into submission!!  Only kidding.   

I talked to many of you yesterday who hadn’t actually booked venues, or who asked me advice on different hotels and wedding venues, and I know that some of you will be looking at this blog following our conversations. 

I am true to my word.  You don’t need to have booked Fotoamour to get advice from me on venues or other wedding stuff – I am happy to pass on what I know for free.  I just want to make sure that you get the best day and the best service from your other suppliers.   The number is 07960 531477 or email me at info@fotoamour.co.uk

And I am flattered that so many of you are reading this blog and taking my advice on getting the best people to help you with your weddings.    Thanks for popping in!


Wedding Shows Northwest

Just some dates for your diary before I forget:-

Lytham Hall Wedding Fayre   Sunday March 28th 

This should be a really good show with lots of local and excellent exhibitors (including Fotoamour, of course!).  It is a new show and patently lots of effort has gone into making it very splendid by Paul Rowley and his team.  Come and say ‘hello’, have a look round the grounds and sample the lovely tea and cakes in the tearoom there.   It’s our local show and we are local photographers so we know the area like the back of our hands – come and have a chat and we’ll point you in the direction of other excellent local wedding suppliers.   After all – why would you go further afield if you have the very best of everything on your doorstep?

Barton Grange Open Evening   Thursday 14th April  7pm onwards

Now you know how much we love The Barton Grange Hotel?  Well, I’m thrilled to say that Louise and Jane and our lovely friends there have invited us to come along on the evening of 14th to have a chat with you all. 

All I’m going to say is, if you haven’t booked your venue already, make sure you bring your deposit payment as once you’ve seen the Barton Grange and you’ve met the staff…. well, you’ll be wanting to snap up your chosen date straightaway!

Tickled Trout Hotel, Preston   25th April

We are hoping to be present at this show but have to just confirm.  However, I think it is really worth checking out as the hotel is going through some major changes and there are exciting times ahead.  Let’s get it straight – this isn’t a country hotel.  Its just off the motorway.  But that also makes it hugely convenient and easy to find – and, as you know, the important thing is interiors, food and hospitality and the attitude of the staff.  And they’re lovely. 

So pop along and have a look and we’ll hope to see you there.

Jo x

Wedding Spending Priorities

Its about that time of year when we see loads of couples about their wedding bookings.  A very exciting time, not just for you, but for us too because there is nothing I like more than sitting down and chatting through the details of someone’s wedding.  Your wedding is very special to you – but for me its a new project, a new set of challenges and an opportunity to try new things often in a new location with new people!

I just like weddings!  Of course its a bit of a yawn for the male members of my household but well….they witter on themselves about sport and cameras and things so I think I’m entitled to obsess about  wedding shoes and dresses and paraphernalia!

As the years have gone by (you wouldn’t believe I’m only 26 would you?  Life has been hard!) one of the things that I have come to believe about weddings is that there are certain things into which you should pile your hard-earned cash.  And others that are froth and fancy and won’t make any difference to your day – and which, if you don’t have the cash to splash, it won’t make any difference to the general enjoyment of the day or your lives which follow.

Now you just know I’m going to tell you to spend money on your photography and I’m not going to apologise for that.  Your pictures will live with you for the duration of your married life.  So its worth spending the dosh to get it right.  Nuff said – I won’t go on.

But what else really matters?

Your rings.  Spend money on your rings!  Since the recession just consider how valuable gold has become – have you noticed all the adverts in the press and on the telly?  Your rings will hold their value if you buy wisely and buy the very best you can afford.  So don’t stint on this.

There are several jewellers I know and here are three of them.  Coles The Jewellers on Highfield Road in South Shore, Blackpool which is where I got my engagement ring.  Clayton’s The Jewellers on the corner of St. Albans Road and St. Davids Road South in St. Annes – they are jolly nice in there and they attend a lot of the wedding fayres -as do Coles.  And finally Peter Woodcock The Jewellers in Lytham whose window I occasionally linger outside with my nose pressed up against the glass and a wistful expression on my face!

So invest in your jewellery – its important and its wise!

The next thing I think is important is to select your wedding venue with the comfort of your guests in mind.  Its a party, after all, and its important to make sure that your guests have great food and good wine and are treated impeccably.  Service and hospitality can make or break your day.

So listen to the reviews of newly wed couples and make sure you sample the food first – and not the restaurant food but the real deal wedding breakfast.  I’ve never asked whether couples get to taste the food from a real wedding but I would have thought it was essential – how else do you know whether a venue can cater for a large party?

At Zoe and Justin’s wedding, above, they even sent the best man out for some goodies at the church to ensure that their guests didn’t go hungry – it always makes me giggle when I think back to those very special canapes! 

Its worth investing in a great suit for the groom.  Andy (above)  had one made for his wedding to Rachael last year. Its an item that can be used time and time again (and I think a groom in a lounge suit looks great – but that’s personal taste) and you will really feel that you have got your money’s worth. 

If you want something a little more dressy than a lounge suit next on the list would be a dinner suit as again, over the years, you’ll find it comes in handy at various functions.  They’re not hideously expensive if you shop around and if you consider that even if you might hire a tux for only one function a year, it will have paid for itself within two or three years.  

The reality of hiring formalwear is that you get to wear it once only.  If you have your heart set on top hat and tails, by all means, go for it.   But if you have a budget to consider (or you just want to spend your money wisely with the longterm in mind) it might help to think that you have other options. 

 And, of course, there are family cultures and traditions to consider too such as those at Shelly and Matt’s wedding last autumn.  There’s no doubt that they are fun to photograph and interesting visually.

Whilst I think that it is very important in these straightened times to be careful with your pennies, don’t forget that it is also your big day!  You can soon take the romance and fun out of what should be a wonderful special moment by wondering, as you’re just about to say ‘I do’,  whether you should have settled for the £49.99 two tier sponge cake rather than the £59.99 rich fruit!! 

You know me – I think that there is far too much wedding naffness that comes with a huge price tag.   Its not just about saving money – its about spending the money you do have with clarity and wisdom.


Shelly and Matt 31st October 2009

Shelly and Matt’s wedding at Lytham Hall at the end of October was a completely new experience for me.  It was my first Asian/Anglo wedding for starters  (would you call that a Fusion Wedding?).  And secondly it was the first wedding in all these years where, when I pointed my camera in the direction of a guest, they stopped what they were doing, smiled broadly for the camera and then said ‘thankyou!’.  It was as though I had given them a gift! 

Most of the time wedding guests don’t seem to like the camera.  In fact, there are times when as a photographer (and I’m not pushy or ‘in your face’ apart from when I gather the guests for the very few groups I shoot, promise) I feel like I’m some sort of social pariah at a wedding.  However, at Lytham Hall that day I felt like I was an honoured guest and doing a very important job.

 I didn’t meet Shelly until the day.  She is a stunning looking girl, was dressed beautifully and like Matt, had exquisite manners.   Despite the following comments it was actually a very gentle kind of wedding.  Matt looked a little overwhelmed by the proceedings at times and I have to say that, by comparison to English weddings, it was totally mad!  No offence intended.  There were people wandering in and out of rooms, wafts of incense, flower garlands draped around the necks of the groom’s family, guests running round with cameras flashing during the ceremony.  (And not a murmur from the registrar of the day about the perils of ‘flash’.  Mind you, she was a lady I have met before and a real sweetie anyhow!)

It was a really fabulous experience – the gentleness and kindness of the two families combined with the excitement and noise of the guests. 

Matt’s family and friends waited outside in the glorious autumn sunshine until they were summoned by Shelly’s brothers to come into the Hall.  They all filed into the Gold Room, in a wonderful procession, having been greeted by all the Mirza family.  It was great to see Matt dressed appropriately,  and I particularly loved his shoes!

Shelly waited in another room and every so often her Mum, or aunt or friends would pop into make sure she was OK.

I loved the bit where Shelly was brought by her family who held a beautiful embroidered cloth above her head, like a canopy,  through to the Gold Room at Lytham Hall to where Matt was waiting.   

After the Asian part of the ceremony all the guests moved upstairs to where the registrars were waiting to complete the marriage certificate and conduct the ceremony according to English law.  I don’t think I have seen so many photographer guests during a ceremony – the British are so restrained usually and sidle up to take The Marriage Certificate Shot looking all embarrassed.  But on this occasion, even they got stuck in!!

Later on there was music and little gifts of bracelets, gold pouches an embroidered purses were handed out to the ladies.  There was also delicious food provided by a fantastic restaurant in Stockport and served by the inimitable Paul Rowley and his band of trusty helpers.

Shelly had hennaed her hands with beautiful intricate patterns and this pendant was a gift from her grandmother. 

We took pictures of Matt and Shelly on the staircase at Lytham Hall and outside using flash – being a late autumn afternoon there was no light at all.  The groups were taken inside the Gold Room.

I was honoured to accept an invitation to stay on for the meal afterwards and it was the best Indian food I have ever tasted.  The curries all tasted different and must admit that I’m not a fan of Indian food  because, lately in the places I’ve eaten, it all seems to taste the same and some of it is really greasy and heavy.  Not this stuff – it was sublime!  What was that amazing carrot pudding thing?    It was delicious and I had about 16 helpings of it.  Can someone please tell me the name of the restaurant because I want some more of that pudding! 

Thank you Shelly and Matt for inviting me to stay, and thank you to your families for making me so very welcome!  The pictures are on-line now – you just need your password.  Speak to you soon.


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