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.


Wedding timings

One of the most difficult things for couples to work out is how to plan their wedding day schedule for photography.  

Its really easy when you know how!   

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The two most important pieces of information you need are the time of your wedding and the time of your wedding breakfast.  This is not the time when you actually sit down to the meal and a plate of delicious food is placed before you.  No.  This is the time when you are called by the venue’s wedding coordinator to begin the line -up which precedes the meal.     (You don’t actually have to have a line-up if you don’t want – its traditional but not necessary if you hate the idea.  And it is not the best opportunity for your photographer either.)Ingham Rawkins 180409

 Once you have these two bits of information, working out your timings is easy.

Work back from the start of your wedding, and give your photographer 30 minutes at the church/venue before  the wedding begins.  This allows for some less formal stuff which reflects the anticipation of the day and often throws up some lovely shots.


A church ceremony is likely to take about 40 minutes (with a catholic mass or with a lot of hymns you might be looking at a longer time) and a civil ceremony will be about 20 to 30 minutes depending on how many readings you have.


Give yourself 10 minutes to get out of the ceremony and mingle with your guests and reckon on about 30 minutes to take 5 formal group shots.  If you want 10 groups you can double the time (particularly if they all have different people in them).


Add another 10 minutes for confetti (if you want a shot which is set-up).

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So a church wedding that begins at 2pm would be timed (with Fotoamour anyway) something like this.

1.30   Photographer arrives – groom at about the same time

1.50   Bridesmaids arrive

1.55   Bride arrives

2.00 Ceremony begins

2.40  Ceremony finishes

2.50 Formal group shots

3.20 Bride and groom move to church gate for confetti

3.30 Bride and groom leave the church.


Now add in your travel time to the reception – say, 10 minutes and time for B&G shots at a location en route.  Some photographers will take much longer to do these photographs than Fotoamour so discuss how much time they need to allow you work out proper timings.

3.30   Bride and groom travel to reception stopping en route for photos allowing time for getting in and out of car etc.

4.15  Bride and groom arrive at reception and mingling photos.

4.45 Photographer photographs cake/tables/cutting cake shot if required

5.00 Wedding line-up (receiving line) begins

5.30 Wedding breakfast served.

 These are generous timings and, in fact, if you were booking Fotoamour you would have to add an hour to our service to accomodate this.  However, you won’t be racing through your day and this also only allows for 10 minutes of travel.  We often have to allow 20 minutes or more if you are using vintage cars for your wedding – they don’t go at 100 miles an hour!

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For a civil ceremony where all the action takes place in one location you would manage a 3 hour booking without any difficulty.  This is because you lose any travel time and also, a civil ceremony is considerably shorter than a church ceremony.

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If you are looking at a longer coverage, which we also offer, you may want to cover all preparation shots AND first dance.  Bear in mind that no photographer worth their salt will take shots whilst your guests are eating which results in about 1 hr or more of time when your photographer is being paid for doing nothing.  It is also worth noting on a long wedding (8 hours or more), that your photographer will have been working throughout – a little refreshment stop would be polite and help them keep their concentration for longer.  The perfect opportunity for this is when you and your guests are eating yourself.DSCF00730

 To make the most of your time consider starting your photography with hair and make-up shots and having your speeches at the beginning of the meal rather than the end. Booth Blagg 010809

 An 8 hour wedding won’t allow you to cover first dance if you want prep shots too.  So you would really need your photographer to start shooting just before the ceremony because, invariably, first dances never take place when our client’s think they will.  For a meal served at 5.30 you are realistically looking at a time of 9pm for the first dance. 

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Trying to incorporate a first dance shot is not the best way to use your wedding photographer if you are on a limited budget either.  Why?  Well because once the wedding breakfast has finished the formal structure of the day starts to break down making it difficult to capture anything other than staged group shots and your  guests looking a bit the worse for wear.  The venue usually have to turn the room around for the evening part of your celebrations and guests disperse to their rooms or the bar.  People tend also to be in tight groups, socialising and invariably with their backs to the camera in a fairly small area of the bar. 

So my advice would be to use your photographer during the part of the day where, when you look back at your photos, there will be more going on.

If you need any advice on timings at all just give me a call – I don’t even mind if you’re not my customers!

Joanne and Chris – 5th July 2009

Another wedding – this time at Bartle Hall and it was the turn of Joanne and Chris.  I first met them in February 2008 when they booked me to do their wedding photography and was impressed with what a straightforward couple they are.   I don’t think that things have always been easy for them in many different ways but they are one of those couples who just seem to get on and enjoy what they have.   Two really positive people with the most adorable little boys, Tyler and Cameron.

There were some classic shots from the day which they will see when all their work is ready to collect – won’t be long now guys.  But in the meantime here are a few to be going on with!

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Love this shot – what’s Mummy doing now?!

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The flowers were bright and went well with the sunny colours of the decor at Bartle Hall.  Flowers were by Klints – not come across them before but they look very pretty.  (Must be based in the Preston area).

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Sophisticars provided transport for Joanne to Bartle Hall with a really discreet driver – no fussing around trying to rearrange the dress and getting in all the shots.  However, the car was really important to Chris and Joanne so we made sure that we got some good shots of it and that it featured prominently!

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That is one very happy boy!

Halo and Ellis provided the dress and Slaters, the formalwear.

What about the cake?  Fabulous M&S ………..yum!

Sally and Will’s wedding

Sally arriving with Jeremy

Sally arriving with Jeremy


Just thought I would let you know that some of the pictures of flowers etc have been added to the Weddings, Vows and Videotape entry earlier this month.

Just couldn’t resist putting in a few more.

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Good wedding car company

This is a good one for you all to check out – Brentwood Hire.

Being a girl I’m not much interested in cars – though I’ll have the feminists amongst you baying for blood – but frankly it doesn’t interest me much.  If it gets me from A to B that’s all I really care about.

However, I know that some of you out there will be pleased to have a car company recommended.

Brentwood Hire supplied the cars for a wedding that we did recently at The Great Hall at Mains.  I have uploaded a few photos for you to see of the car. 

However, you know it is absolutely against my religion to allow the general public to look at pictures of a wedding when the bride and groom haven’t seen them first.  Its just plain rude.  Couples should have the final say-so on what their guests, and the general public, get to see.   Obviously I am part of a dying, albeit somewhat more dignified and considerate, breed.

So the pictures you see here will only show bits of the very lovely car that Brentwood supplied or more general views where you can’t see the bride and groom themselves. 

Anyhow, on top of the fact that the car was super clean and impressive  was the fact that the service was excellent. The driver was very friendly, immaculately dressed and most importantly our photographer didn’t have to work hard to keep him out of the photographs.  Nothing personal, you understand, its just that we think you want wedding photographs of you and your guests – not the other suppliers.

So check out Brentwood Hire on www.brentwoodhire.com  Telephone number 0161 643 7631  or email enquiries@brentwoodhire.com.

Tell ’em Jo sent ya ……………..

Where did my budget go?!

Most couples will have a budget to work to and most are pretty good at sticking to it. 

But the time to be most on your guard is the last three months before your wedding.  Its peak stressing out time and you’ll be tempted to splash out on things out of panic rather than necessity.

Write down a list of necessities when you first start planning and make sure you stick to it.  There are some things that you just don’t need:-

Table gifts – unless you’re loaded!  When everyone has had a bit too much to drink and the venue are in a hurry to clear the tables, believe me, the table gets cleared of glass and cutlery and anything left, including those £5 table gifts, gets scooped up and binned.  Its heartbreaking.  And its unnecessary.  Give a sum to charity instead – you’ll save money and you’ll be doing some good too.

Buttonholes for everyone – unless you’re loaded.  Just stick with the main bridal party and parents.  If anyone else wants to join in with the ‘look’ they can buy their own – you are not responsible!

Confetti – you know I love good old paper confetti.  The rest costs an arm and a leg and is never as effective.  The wrath of florists everywhere is about to descend upon me…help!

Cakes – why not double up your cake as a pudding?  The french have the ‘croquembouche’ (think that’s how you spell it) which is their wedding cake – a  profiterole tower.  It looks fantastic, tastes delicious and you’re not left with tons of fruit cake that no one likes and is far too heavy to eat after a great big meal anyhow. 

Cars – if you’re having a civil ceremony there is absolutely no need for cars.  Why not pay a smaller fee and get a really good taxi company to do the honours?  If you do have a car to deliver the bride to the door, there is no need to pay extra to get them to wait until after the ceremony to have pictures taken in it.  Think about it seriously – you’re going to walk out of venue, get into the car, have the pictures taken, and then get out again.  Its not real!  Car companies all over are going to be baying for my blood! 

 Photography – OK I’ll be honest here.  If you’re going to pay less than £500 for your wedding photography (including an album)  think again.   You might be better off buying a half decent camera and lens and getting a friend to do it for you.  You simply cannot get a full day’s photography by anyone with any skill, an album of any quality and a good service for less than £1000.  If you find someone who you think fits the bill for less,  ask them if they have Public Liability and Professional Indemnity Insurance – because if they haven’t and something goes wrong you won’t have any comeback at all.  You might also like to ask them if this is their full time job – rather than a part-time weekend job which they are not declaring to Mr Taxman.

This is why Fotoamour only offer a three hour service, preview book and framed montage for £500.  A longer service by a professional photographer and a decent album should cost a lot more than that. 

Disposable cameras – Forget it.  You’ll pay a load of money to put cameras on every table and you might end up with one half decent photo from each one.  If you simply must go this route put two or three of these horrible things in the hands of a teetotal relative and rely on them to do the honours.  But in all seriousness they always produce rubbish results and, when you weigh up all the cost against the finished results you’d be better paying your photographer to stay for an extra couple of hours coverage in the evening.

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