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I've been photographing weddings in South Wales since 2008! I've probably covered well over five hundred and fifty weddings whilst consistently shooting around fifty weddings a year. You could say I've been there and done it and got the t shirt in terms of what I've seen in the wedding industry! I've covered pretty much every wedding venue in the South Wales area as well as being booked to shoot destination weddings outside of Wales. I thoughts I'd write a blog post on this website about tips on your wedding day from a photography perspective.
Wedding tip one is for any couples getting married during the winter. Winter weddings are a whole different ball game to summer weddings in that they are harder to shoot from a photography point of view. The obvious thing is that you are more likely to get bad weather during the winter but yet still expect to the same results from your wedding photographer as they would deliver on a summer wedding. So the tip really is that if you book a winter wedding to try and get an early ceremony given that it goes dark at 4pm compared to a summer wedding when last light is around 9.30pm. This maximises your window for photography and allows you time for a shower too. Don't for example book a wedding ceremony at 3pm as this would only allow your photographer one hour to get all the wedding photos done outdoors as last light is usually 4.15pm. This massively restricts how your photographer can work on the day and this then will obviously have an effect on how your "wedding set" of photos looks. The first question I ask any bride that enquires about a winter wedding is "what time is your ceremony?" - I then go on to explain this point. As I know all the venues and all the great places inside and outside for wedding photos, my next question then is where is your venue? as this will then give me an overall feel for the wedding and how I'm going to run the day and advise on where to go should it also rain! Once I know this I can make adjustments and have a plan in my head should the worst happen and we get darkness plus bad weather. This is not something that I need to do with any spring, autumn or summer weddings as the daylight available allows me time to move things around should it rain for example in the afternoon.
Most people think we just turn up on the day with a camera and start snapping, but the logistics and planning ahead plays a major part in great photos, you'd be amazed at the finer details that I think about that will then deliver the best results for your photos; everything from wind direction for veil shots and drone photography to cloud cover and shadows and shade around the wedding venue. I'll even move furniture or pictures from walls in the backgrounds if it affects the composition of my shots, this allows clean photos with great composition.
Wedding tip two is to arrange for someone to gather people for the "traditional" family posed group photos, Its not the photographers job to gather people as we don't know the people who are required or what they look like. What usually works best is for a family member or relative to be in charge of this. Pick someone who knows the people well. Knows who they are and what they look like. Its no good just shouting names out that usually doesn't work. I've seen ushers being used in the past but they are generally the grooms friends and don't know any of the brides family and are usually more interested in where the bar is! not that I'd want to make a sweeping generalisation over some of the good ushers I've seen!!
Wedding tip three is to allow time during bridal preparations for a few photos in your dress before you leave your house or bridal suite to travel to the wedding venue. This means getting into your wedding dress slightly earlier than planned. I realise that this is hard as time seems to run away on the morning of a wedding with everyone trying to get ready at the same time and there are always little finishing details to be done to hair and makeup etc. But even being ready 10 minutes earlier than planned will allow your photographer and videographer to get some amazing bridal images or a few extra shots with your bridesmaids or parents before you leave. Remember the photographer if he / she is on their own will need to leave before you to get to the venue a little earlier so the sooner you can do this the better. Your photographer will usually advise you on this as this is a key photo that every photographer loves to get done along with the first look shot of bride with dad. Also worth remembering is that your videographer will need to leave you before the photographer as they need even more time to set up things in the ceremony room. Please note that this is only usually the case if you are travelling from your home or hotel to the wedding venue. If you are getting ready at the venue itself then this whole process is a lot easier all around for your photographer and videographer. This tip becomes even more valid and is really needed with winter weddings as I like to maximise the amount of bridal portraits I can shoot before the wedding knowing that I've only got half a day of light to work with and especially if there is bad weather forecast. These really then do become bonus shots and the more time I have at this point the better.
This gorgeous bridal portrait using in black and white using the light from the window is an example of what I mean. This was taken during bridal prep just before she left the hotel room. The fact that she was ready early allowed me time to position her correctly and pick the correct lens. It was the extra few minutes that allowed this, when everything is rushed there is usually no time to construct and image like this one. Its a personal favourite of mine and ties in well with the italian villa and feel for this italian wedding set.
Wedding tip three is thinking about going offsite for your wedding photos. This has become really popular the last few years especially for weddings in Swansea and the Gower which I probably shoot more than anywhere. All photographers will usually drive you to where you want to go but don't forget to factor in the travel time to and from where you want to go and build this into your plan of the day. Your wedding venue especially if its a wedding venue in Swansea or one of the Gower wedding venues will help you to do this. Offsite photos can give you an extra look to your overall wedding set of photos. As a Swansea wedding photographer I know all the great locations around the gower and know the best sunset places and empty beaches and fields. This can also help if your wedding venue doesn't not have much in the way of grounds for the bride and groom photos to be taken. The image below on the right is from a wedding at Towers Hotel and Spa. We headed down to SA1 and grabbed some beach images with views over Mumbles. The photo on the right was from a wedding at Peterstone court in Brecon. We headed to Llangorse lake. I think you'd agree that it offers a little wow factor at the end of your day.
Wedding tip four is to factor in to your timings the time it takes for all guests to come out of your ceremony and give you a hug and have a chat. There will be people here you haven't seen in years. Everyone will want to chat to you and hug you. People will also want to go to the bar, use the toilet, some will use this time to check into their rooms. This can usually take up to twenty miniutes, so for example if you have set aside two hours for your photos, you now only have one hour 40 mins. When I take the main photos of the day during this time, it doesn't take me the full hour and forty minutes but you also need time for yourselves to chill a bit, have your own drinks and chat more. That way nothing is rushed and everything is relaxed and you get to enjoy this period of the day without feeling stressed. So just be mindful of this time, extra ten minutes here and there as buffers just like can be crucial to the flow of your day.