Category Archives: Wedding Planning

Wedding Planning With Your Photography In Mind

 

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ADVICE FROM A WEDDING PHOTOGRAPHER TO HELP YOU WITH YOUR WEDDING PLANNING

If you’re anything like I was as an engaged person, you’ve probably looked online and found hundreds of thousands of articles about wedding planning: A monthly countdown of important “To Do”s, checklists to make, advice on choosing your bridal party and how to deal with difficult family members, lists and lists of venues and other suppliers, and all sorts of other overwhelming stuff! And this is before you even hit Pinterest and start looking at all those delicious photos…

But while the wedding blogs and magazines have got you covered on the overall, big picture planning of your wedding day, I noticed that there wasn’t much out there about wedding planning specifically with your photography in mind – and of course this is a big deal for me! The most important thing to remember is that your photographer can only work with what he or she is given. I wish I could step out of Harry Potter and swoosh my wand around and Wingardium all those pesky Levi-OH-sas, but alas, nope. But here are some of my top tips for wedding planning to ensure you get the kind of photographs you’re envisioning!

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Time of Ceremony Depending on the Time of Year

(It’s All About the Light)

If you’re getting married in the winter months in the UK, the sun is going to set EARLY. And for photography, the last 45 – 60 minutes before “actual” sunset aren’t great, either. So you’ll need to allow enough time after the ceremony to get all your family groups and couple photos done. You can pop over and read an article I’ve written about planning your wedding day timeline, which will help you work out how long things actually take! But just be aware that if you want photos outside in natural light (which is always the best and most flattering light), you can’t set your ceremony start time to 3pm, because it’s just not going to happen!

Of course, if it’s summer, you can start much later! But then the opposite also applies – if your ceremony is early, for example around 1-2pm, the light is incredibly harsh, and comes down from directly overhead, resulting in a lot of dark shadows under eyes and noses. Quite often I’ll do the family photos in a shady area to avoid this, and then keep your couple photos till later in the evening when the light is soft, and you might get that lovely golden glow (possibly my favourite thing in the world!)

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We took Ale and Eva outside for some extra portraits especially when we saw this beautiful golden backlighting!

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Hannah and Sam did their couple portraits after dinner during their summer wedding, to make the most of this beautiful light. This was taken just after 8pm.

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Shwetha and Phillip managed to get some lovely light at their winter wedding in February, too!  But this was taken at around 1pm.

 

Choosing Your Getting Ready location

(It’s Still All About the Light)

Where brides and grooms get ready before a wedding is often a last-minute decision. Quite often they haven’t even thought about it until a week or two before the wedding day! And then it’s a last-minute hotel or a friend’s house – both of which are more than fine if they’re what you want in your wedding photos! But hotel rooms can be cramped and tiny, and let’s face it, there’s hardly any space to manoeuvre around the bed! They’re often very dark, and have those pesky overhead spotlights which cause the same panda eyes as overhead sun. So see if you can have a look at the specific hotel room you’re booking beforehand – something with big windows (preferably high up so you can keep the curtains open to let the light in) and a bit of space to get around the bed is perfect! It will also be much better for your make-up artist to see how you’ll look in natural light.

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When it comes to getting ready at someone’s house, it’s quite often the parents’ home, or your own home for one, if not both, of you. Now this can be super lovely, because it means that there’ll be rooms and pictures and furniture which all have special meaning to you in your photos. But it can also look very cluttered, because it’s lived-in. So have a think about the specific rooms where you want to put your dress on, or get your hair done, and tidy them out beforehand – for example, you don’t want old bathrobes hanging on the door in the background while you’re putting on your wedding gown, or piles of shoeboxes – or anything that creeps into the frame and detracts from you!

Two key words to remember: Light and Space.

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Steph’s hotel room had amazing big windows and lots of space for her parents and bridesmaids (and me!) to move around.

Bride coming downstairs watched by bridesmaids

Laura got ready at her parents’ house, which was wonderful for nostalgia and for its light and space!

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Jane’s getting ready room was one of the hotel rooms at the manor house where she and Matt were married, and it was perfectly laid out for its purpose, with lots of windows and no bed (it being a dedicated getting ready room).

 

Your Ceremony Location

(I Can’t Believe It’s Still All About the Light)

Outdoor Ceremonies:

If you’re going to be outside, have a think about what sort of coverage you have overhead. If you’re going to be standing under a canopy or similar, that’s great, as you’ll have smooth light on your faces – whereas if you were under a tree, the light could be dappled, and one of you could be in bright light and the other not, making things very difficult to expose for! Obviously it’s beautiful to get married under a tree, but just be aware of the light and where it’s falling on you.

You’ll also want to check where the sun is going to be at the time of the ceremony – you don’t want to be squinting into the sun instead of looking at your partner, and nor do you want your guests to be squinting into the sun the whole time, either!

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Anja and Mike’s woodland ceremony was beautifully shaded so that they were evenly lit.

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Angie and Martin’s gazebo at Chippenham Park was open at both sides, so that whichever way they were facing, they had the light on them at all times!

 

Indoor Ceremonies:

Again, I’m a fan of natural light in these, but of course that’s much harder to control than in a getting ready location of your choice, where I can ask you to put your dress on facing the window! So if need be, I’ll bust out the flash (don’t worry, it will never ever be pointed directly at you, only upwards). But if you do have different options when deciding on the layout of your ceremony room, I would advise always choosing to stand facing a window, so that the light falls on your faces – and on your guests in the background. The officiant will have their back to the window, and I’ll stand with my back to the window, too, to capture your faces! Windows down the sides are also great, so don’t let this worry you too much – just try not to stand in darkness, basically!

Alternative Wedding Photographers LondonJennie and Scott’s venue had windows at the front and all down one side (you can see the side windows in the photo, and the front windows are behind me), ensuring that they had even light on them both from the front and the back.

Wedding ceremony at Laura Ashley Hotel wedding

Laura and Jack’s venue had a massive window right behind me, which was perfect for lighting them! If they’d chosen to stand at the opposite end of the room, it would have been much darker and much less pretty!

 

A few things that aren’t about the light (I know! There are some! :-))

 

*Try not to have tall table arrangements on the main table. I love to get photos of the two of you laughing and interacting during the speeches, and I can’t do it if there’s a giant candelabra or table name on a stick between you! The same goes for shots of your parents and other people at the main table.

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Laura and Jack again, and Laura’s Dad – I couldn’t have got this shot if the table arrangement had been a high one, as it would have blocked at least one of them.

 

* Give your guests some fun stuff to do. Garden games (giant jenga, spacehoppers etc) always go down a treat, but even if that isn’t your bag, there are plenty of other ways you can get your guests enjoying themselves. Most of my couples ask for photos of their guests having fun, and while I am always on the lookout for laughs and smiles while people are chatting, you’ll get so much more if they’re doing something, be it games or pimping their prosecco or just lounging on deckchairs in the sun!

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Angie and Martin’s guests had a blast playing with the blow-up T-Rex at their wedding!

Sunny afternoon wedding at Chicheley Hall wedding

Jane and Matt had garden games, food stalls and deckchairs, resulting in a fun but relaxed afternoon.

 

* Think about where I’m going to stand. The last thing I want to do on a wedding day is be in anybody’s way, so for formal moments like the ceremony, make sure there’s space for me to stand up front and facing you – in other words, don’t let the officiant be right back against the wall, and you two feet in front of them, because then I won’t be able to get far back enough to get you both in the picture! Make sure there’s a nice open area between the front row of guests and the back of the room.

*If you’re having a church wedding, please please please check with your vicar/priest about where I’m allowed to stand. I’ve been told so many times that there are no restrictions on photography, only to arrive and be told that I have to stand right at the back and never move. I’m happy to fall in with what they ask, but I don’t want you to be disappointed that there are no shots of your faces during the ceremony, or even walking down the aisle!

*Think about what’s behind you during the speeches. So often it’s black speakers on stands and the DJ booth, which really doesn’t make for pretty photos! Some of my couples have created flower walls or colourful hanging circles/origami just so they have a pretty background for the photos of them at the top table!

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Sophie and Elliott had strings of fairylights hanging up against the cool white brick walls of their venue, as well as wooden pallets with origami flowers!

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Zohra and Sumeet’s venue, Northbrook Park, already has beautiful vines growing on the brick walls in their reception room – no need to decorate anything!

 

When you book me as your wedding photographer, I send you a wedding planning magazine with all these tips and more, but I hope these will get you started right from the beginning when you choose your venue! Remember: None of these things are dealbreakers. I don’t want you to give up the venue of your dreams because you’re worried that I won’t like the light! The info I’ve given you is more to clue you in on what I, as a photographer, look for, so that you can make informed decisions when it comes to layout and planning. I always encourage my couples to ask me for advice about this sort of thing, so don’t hesitate to drop me an email if you’re unsure!

 

 

 

Wedding Planning Advice: Your Wedding Day Timeline

Wedding planning advice by London Wedding Photographer Kat Forsyth

 

WEDDING DAY TIMELINE

So you’re having a WEDDING (yay!). But unless you actually plan events for a living, it’s going to feel a little overwhelming. So many things have to happen on a wedding day – there’s getting ready, and the ceremony, and drinks & canapes, and family photos, and couple photos, and speeches, and dinner, and dancing, and of course you actually want to find time to hang out with all your guests somewhere in the midst of all that! So how does it all come together?

I’ve written this article to help you plan your wedding day timeline, as I’ve photographed over a hundred weddings and I’ve seen what works, but it’s just a guide – every wedding is different, and the most important thing is doing things your way (and having fun doing it!). But with that caveat out the way, this is my “How long stuff actually takes” Wedding Day Timeline.

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Alternative Wedding photographer LondonGETTING READY
1-1.5 hours

Brides, if you’re having a hair and make-artist, they’ll be able to advise you what on time you need to start getting ready. But from a photographic point of view, you definitely don’t need me there for the entire time! You’ll be getting hair and make-up done for a while before I get there. An hour or 90 minutes is plenty of time to capture the hustle and bustle of the morning prep, and get photos of you and your family or bridal party eating toast and dancing around to some Motown hits while getting your hair done! I also use this time to take photos of the wedding outfits, shoes, and any other important details.
Remember, if your dress is lace-up or has lots of tiny buttons, it can often take a lot longer than you expect to get it done up, so make sure to allow a good 20 minutes for this.
Guys usually need a little less time (45 minutes to an hour), but usually it’s only possible to cover groom prep if I have a second shooter. However, if you’re in the same building, I can do a bit of both!

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Alternative wedding photography LondonWAITING TO LEAVE FOR CEREMONY
20 minutes

I recommend this partly as a buffer in case things run late, and partly because it’s a nice time for you to calm down, have a drink with your friends or family, and take some photos!

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TRAVEL TO CEREMONY

As long as it takes! Try to add some extra time in, just in case of traffic. Of course, if you’re getting ready at the same venue, you’ve just eliminated the need for this.  🙂

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CEREMONY
20-40 minutes

This is very dependent on the type of ceremony you’re having (for example, a full church service or a short registry office ceremony), so chat to your officiant well beforehand to find out.

wedding day planning | Alternative wedding photographer London

 

 

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AFTER CEREMONY
At least 20 minutes

Getting people to filter out of the ceremony can take surprisingly long, especially as they’ll all want to stop and hug and congratulate you on the way out! This is a lovely moment to take happy photos, though. Confetti usually happens here, too (my favourite!).

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Northbrook Park wedding confetti | Wedding photographer Fun

Wedding guests hugging bride | North London wedding photographer

 

 

GROUP PHOTOS
30 minutes

It’s up to you how many of these you’d like, and where, but I recommend getting them done after the ceremony before people have wandered off and started drinking. I’m quite quick with these, as no one wants to hang around for ages while these are being done. I recommend up to eight groupings, as these can take 3-5 minutes each, usually because someone has gone AWOL!

Bridesmaids mismatched pink dresses | wedding photographer Hertfordshire

 

Group photos wedding timeline | Gay wedding photographer

DRINKS & CANAPES
1.5 hours

Usually the rest of the guests get going on this while we do the group shots, and then you and your family can join in and have a bit of a chat with everybody. This is when I wander around surreptitiously and get photos of everyone laughing and having fun! If it’s outside, garden games (giant jenga, spacehoppers, etc) go down a treat.

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wedding planning advice tips | Fun wedding photographer Sussex

pink hair bride | London wedding photographersCOUPLE PORTRAITS
20 minutes – 1 hour (during the drinks reception)

This is my favourite part of the day – I just LOVE taking photos of just the two of you together – but it’s also completely up to you how many couple photos you’d like. I’m completely open to popping down the road to get pictures in a pretty field, but if you’d only like 5 minutes right near the venue, that’s fine, too! The closer we stick to the venue, the more limited the photos will be, whereas if we go for a bit of a wander we can use more backgrounds and different light and get more variety. So have a think about this!
Remember, it can take a good 20 minutes for the guests to get into the reception room and find their seats, so even if we only do 20 minutes of photos at the same time, you won’t be missing out on anything!
We can also divide up the time, and do 20 minutes before dinner, and 20 minutes afterwards (if it’s still light! You might find me babbling about the beautiful golden light and asking if you want to do photos in it at some point here!)

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Happy wedding photos at sunset | Kent wedding photographers

DINNER
2 Hours

Depends on how many courses you have, and if it’s plated or buffet, but I will say that dinner has run overtime at 90% of my weddings, so I’d allow at least an extra 20 minutes on top of what your caterers tell you, just to be safe!

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Documentary wedding photographer LondonSPEECHES
45 minutes

Totally variable depending how many you have, and how long they are, but I’d recommend giving people a time limit so that you at least have a rough idea of how long they’re going to take! Again, every wedding is different, but I’d say you’re looking at 35-45 minutes for the traditional three speeches (Father of the bride, groom, best man). But please don’t be limited by tradition! If you want different/more people to speak, but you don’t want speeches to run on too long, just give them a shorter time limit to stick to. Sorted!

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CHANGING THE ROOM OVER FOR DANCING [venue-dependent]
30-45 minutes

If you’re using the same room for dinner and dancing, the venue staff might need to get rid of all the tables, or possibly just the front few. This can take longer than you expect! Usually the guests go into another room for tea and coffee while this happens, so it’s another good time to chat to people you haven’t managed to catch up with yet, but it generally does take 30-45 minutes.

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CAKE-CUTTING
10 minutes

Most of this is taken up with getting the guests into position. The actual cutting only takes a minute or two!

 

Cake cutting wedding | Fun wedding photography Prince Albert Camden

 

wedding planner London | Alternative wedding photographerFIRST DANCE
10 minutes

Same as the cake! Everyone loves this moment, so they’ll all be trying to get a good spot on the edge of the dancefloor. The actual dance won’t take as long as getting them into position.

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Wedding day timeline | First Dance Alternative wedding photography London Tower Bridge

London wedding photographersDANCING
30 minutes

I find 30 minutes is more than enough to get the guests having a blast on the dancefloor. Often it’s the same few people dancing, so make sure your DJ plays some crowd-pleasers right at the start so that I get the most variety of people on the floor!

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And that’s how a wedding day timeline adds up to 9+ hours! Again, every wedding is different – I’ve photographed ones where everything is over within 5 hours – but this is how a standard day generally runs!

Make sure to check out my other Wedding Planning tips!

Alternative Wedding Photography Advice – How to have a heartfelt wedding you’ll love looking back on

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You’ve probably seen this quote travelling around the social media sphere a lot (it’s Maya Angelou, by the way, and I’m embarrassed that I had to look that up), and while it’s spot on for how people think about each other, it also immediately popped into my head when I was thinking about writing this post. Because it’s true for your wedding day, too.

You’re going to forget what your cake tasted like. You’re going to forget what your Mum wore. But you’re never going to forget how your wedding day made you FEEL.

 

 

So, with that in mind, here are my top tips for having a heartfelt wedding that will make you feel all the feels for the rest of your lives together!

 

1. DON’T EVER LISTEN TO THE PHRASE, “BUT YOU CAN’T DO THAT AT A WEDDING!”

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Because you totally can. Seriously. Somewhere along the way, people got a fixed idea of what a wedding “should” be like – white dress, white shoes, white chair covers, pastel flowers, nice demure couple repeating their vows obediently after the officiant…you get the picture. I’ve met couples who have been together for years, but who don’t want to get married because the whole white wedding palaver just doesn’t appeal to them. But no one’s told them they can have something else!

It’s your wedding, and if it’s something you love, you’ll love doing it. And you know what? Your guests will love it too, because you do, and they love you.

 

2. SURROUND YOURSELF WITH LOVE

Bridesmaids rainbow dresses

 

The last thing you want on your wedding day is to have to deal with a family member you don’t get along with, or a pushy school friend who assumed she was going to be a bridesmaid without actually being asked! Obviously it’s awkward to exclude people, but it’ll be so much better on the day when you’re surrounded only by your absolute favourite people, all of whom are there to help you have the most stress-free, wonderful day ever. Especially during the getting ready part of the day – this is the time when nerves are stretched the most, so make sure you’re only getting ready with your nearest and dearest.

 

3. PERSONALISE YOUR CEREMONY

 

Gone are the days where you just had to say “I do” in response to the vicar or registrar, and finish off with a Bible reading! Obviously there’ll be certain limitations if you’re getting married in a church, but even though that might mean excluding the hilarious sweary reading you fancied, you can still do personalised vows and choose readings that have a special significance to you as a couple (check out my article on alternative wedding readings if you haven’t read it!).  You could write your own vows from scratch, and read them to each other as a surprise on the day, or you could write them together beforehand, and both say the same thing on the day so it’s one less thing to worry about!

You could also include your favourite songs in the ceremony – either as background, or, as two of my 2016 couples did, have a full-on singalong to include all the guests at the end! Print the lyrics in your programs or just on a spare sheet and hand them out beforehand (just make sure it’s something most people know the tune to!)

 

4. BRIDES, DON’T WORRY ABOUT GETTING YOUR DRESS DIRTY

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I know it’s instinctive. Your dress is mostly likely white. And expensive. And it probably drags on the ground. Obviously your natural reaction is to try and keep it clean! But, when you think about it…why?

You’re wearing it for just one day of your whole life. A joyous day, where the last thing you want is the fear of a dirty hem limiting your fun. Do you really think your guests are going to judge you for enjoying your day? If your bridesmaids are clustered around the campfire, singing your favourite song, you’ll want to rush over and join them, even if it means ducking through a muddy field. If your photographer suggests getting some amazing golden light portraits, but it means walking down that sand road, forget the dust and get those gorgeous photos! I’m never going to make you literally sit in dirt, but I promise you that all wedding dresses get dirty underneath during the day, however hard you try. So you might as well forget about the dress and concentrate on making amazing memories!

 

5. SKIP THE TRADITIONS THAT DON’T FEEL LIKE YOU

 

Just like my first point, there are so many things that are taken as standard wedding fare, but that you really don’t need to do. Don’t want a cake or the whole cake-cutting spiel? Don’t have a cake! Don’t want the bride to walk down the aisle while the groom waits at the top, having being ordered not to turn around until the bride gets to his side? (I’m gonna say this right now: I think that rule is TOTAL bullshit.) Then do it differently! Walk down the aisle together. Or one at a time, with the Groom a surprise too. There’s no rule that he has to be there first! This is one of the things I love about same-sex weddings: because so many wedding traditions are archetypally male/female, same-sex couples have to reinvent the traditions to suit their wedding – anything from getting ready together, to walking down the aisle separately, to walking down with both sets of parents. And I’m thrilled to see more straight couples doing these things their way now, too.

Other things you don’t HAVE to do: Speeches, First Dance, Garter/Bouquet Toss,  Seating Plans, all that jazz. Your wedding is your oyster. If you just want to hang out at an epic barbecue in a field all night and catch up with your loved ones, DO IT.

 

6. REMEMBER TO BREATHE. AND REMIND YOURSELF THAT EVERYBODY IS THERE BECAUSE THEY LOVE YOU.

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It’s pretty useless to say, “Try not to be nervous”, isn’t it? Like, if it was that easy, we’d all be doing it! But I can give you the advice above. If you’re feeling nervous about the ceremony, or stressed at the thought of all eyes being on you, just breathe, and remember that you’re getting married to the most incredible person you’ve ever met, and THAT’S what this is all about. That’s the feeling of joy you want, and the one that you’ll remember forever.

Happy planning!

Kat  xoxo

Wedding Planning Tips – Engagement photos: Do you need them?

Engagement photos do we need them

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Alternative Wedding Readings: 15 quirky, non-traditional & lovely readings

In my years as a wedding photographer, I’ve heard a LOT of readings. I always try to take note of the ones I love, but I’m always slightly busy photographing the moment, and I always end up having to email my couple afterwards and ask them what their awesome reading was!

The wonderful thing about wedding readings is that you can pretty much pick ANYTHING that suits you as a couple. Emotional, cute, romantic, funny, philosophical, and just plain lovely – the world of  readings is basically your oyster! So I thought I’d share some of my favourite alternative wedding readings with you here – I’ve heard a lot, and laughed and cried a lot as a result.

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