Hi I'm Tom, a Wedding Photographer based in Carmarthenshire, West Wales. If you're recently engaged, you'll be sure to receive advice from countless sources and some of it will be great..some probably not so great. So, in this post I focus (mind the pun) on helping you demystify things when it comes to photography.
I'll start by contradicting myself a little by talking venues..this is usually the first thing on the list of newly engaged couples. Be it a barn, tipi, church or manor house you might already have some sort of vision about what you want but with wedding rules being relaxed in Wales, there are more and more options for places to get married. But what has this got to do with photography I hear you ask? Well, wedding photography is often the best way to get a taste of a venue before visiting it..
When researching venues online, try searching 'wedding photography' along with the venue name in Google. This will often give you full galleries from photographers at that venue. Seeing every aspect of the day will hopefully help you narrow down the ones you want to visit before deciding to book and in turn help you start getting a feel of the type of the venue and photography that connects with you.
Choosing a Photographer
There's a good chance you will have a lot of preconceived ideas about Wedding photography. Maybe its stiff, overly posed 80s-tastic photos. Or it might be a bad experience from waiting two hours for group shots when you're desperate to get to the bar (I've been there). It doesn't have to be this way though and when it comes to choosing a photographer, there is a photographer with a style, aesthetic and budget for everyone.
Blog posts or full galleries give you a good feel of a photographer's work throughout the day not just the 'bangers' (which we still love) or a select few for Instagram. Remember these photos might be the only record from the day, so think about each aspect. You'll often find these on websites but most photographers will be more than happy to share some galleries of full weddings if you ask.
Is wedding photography all about the couple portraits and a million group shots?
To put it simply, no. Your wedding photographs are what you can pass down to your children or grandchildren and will be the lasting record of your day. This is where having someone professionally document the moments throughout the day can be so valuable. But what does a whole day of wedding photography entail? Will it be weird having someone follow us around?
Well its not something you're probably used to happening every day, but the excitement and enjoyment always takes over and I truly believe getting to know your photographer over a coffee or a zoom call really helps with this. Capturing candids in situations where people are comfortable with you being there is so much easier so when it feels like the photographer is just another guest at your wedding, you're on to a winner.
Tom, take us through a typical Wedding day...
Ok, wedding days really do vary, but most have common themes. I like to talk with couples through how I approach a wedding day and here are my thoughts on each part of the day, from getting ready/prep all the way through to the evening with a selection of my images from Weddings in 2022. Let's start..
This is one of my favourite parts of the day - there's always a good energy and so much to photograph and document. I like couples to be able to look back over their photos and see the story unfold and as a photographer, this is where I start to set the scene. The locations, the details, the personalities and candid moments.
Its your wedding day and I'm not the photographer that micro manages every aspect however I believe that to get beautiful photos - as a photographer you can't be shy about advising on the best locations or giving prompts/advice so a bride, groom or wedding party don't have to think about that sort of thing and just enjoy the experience.
This is when I'm in full candid mode! Most photographers will be the same here as the timeline is set by you and your registrar. Enjoy the moment and in ninja like fashion I'll document and capture it. For the best shots, confetti exit usually takes some organising so I tend to guide the guests a little here before they are ready to grab a good handful to throw at the married couple!
Hard and fast rule here..the more confetti, the better!
This area is probably the most hotly debated by couples and the time of day I probably end up discussing the most with clients. With my style of photography, the majority of the day tends to be candid with some direction from myself in certain areas. However, this part of the day is the exception.
The first thing to consider is how many groups you want overall (if any). From my experience, depending on size, each group takes around 2/3 minutes. So quite simply, the more groups, the more time on group shots. Decide on a number that suits you and start working on your list. To keep this part running smoothly - I advise you enlist a bridesmaid/groomsman or two to help with the gathering people and then we can get everyone back to their drinks and canopes!
To reiterate here, the key thing though is that it's totally up to you as a couple. Groups, no groups or somewhere in-between..its your decision, choose what feels right and its something I'm always happy to discuss and advise on.
Don't forget, group shots can be a lot of fun too! Take a look at some I took that break the mould of the more traditional 'mantle piece' style.
In between the food and the speeches is a great time for candid moments when people start to relax, rekindle with old friends and make new ones. I'll also be snapping away capturing the moments during the speeches.
When it's time for guests to eat, as well as eating themselves this is the time your photographer will use to change batteries and back up photos because let's be honest, nobody likes having their photo taken when eating!
Bride and Groom Portraits
If this is the part of the day that concerns you the most - I hear you! Let's be honest, having someone follow you around with a camera isn't something most of us experience every day. Almost all couples feel the same way and when I do it, my aim is to keep away from overly staged magazine style/stiff photos. I like capturing natural and happy moments between couples. I give advice and prompts in a fun and relaxed way.
Engagement shoots can be a great way to get a good feel of what to expect from this part of the day and worth considering to help relax you. I wrote a blog post about engagement shoots here.
Depending on band or DJ, party or chilled vibe, Summer or Winter..this part of the day can vary a lot!
When looking for a photographer I would say it's essential for them to be able to use lighting confidently indoors. It gives an opportunity for some creative shots but also kinda essential after the sun goes down.
If you're having an Autumn, Winter or early Spring wedding, a sparklers can be a great option. Talk with your photographer before to see how it can fit into your timeline.
Hopefully this gives you a good insight into the ins and outs of a typical day from a wedding photography perspective or at least gives you some ideas of what you want or don't want.
Typical doesn't mean every wedding is the same. You should plan the wedding the way you want and incorporate the parts you wish. I love hearing new ideas and am excited to talk them over with couples in 2023.