Reading Wedding Photographer's day out in London

Yes, I know Reading and London aren't that far apart, but still it's nice to have a change of scene... and what better place than our capital city!

Now if I start talking churches gloriously adorned in gold, white and red, HUGE wedding breakfasts, and superb socialising over the meal (which is a way of life) some people might just recognise that I've covered an Italian wedding!

This particular ceremony was in Farringdon, where typically the church was not impressive from the outside, but wow... from the inside!! Afterwards guests too a London bus (private hire) to the reception at Hampton Court, travelling right through the centre of London along the banks of the Thames.

Great wedding, or as the Italians would say..."bellissimo!"

What should wedding photographers wear?


... well at least when they're working. But seriously, this question does come up quite a lot. And it's not that surprising because I have heard some horror stories, not least because my industry has its share of idiots and chancers like most others. Jeans and a T shirt should be a definite no no!

Firstly, you're the employer and as such don't feel awkward about asking the question or making (reasonable) stipulations. 

Secondly, it's a wedding. Anybody working there should show respect to the people and the occasion. Whether they're a wedding photographer from Reading or a DJ from Ibiza, common sense must prevail.

Now, there is a train of thought in the wedding photography business that us 'Togs' (as for some strange reason we have named ourselves) believe we must be comfortable. This is not unreasonable, and very sensible. But this shouldn't detract from being smart and presentable.

Far be it for me to say what wedding photographers should wear (we're generally big enough and ugly enough to make our own decisions), but I see nothing wrong with wearing a suit (for the men) just like the other male guests. Female photographers, I believe, should be equally smart but obviously not too "dressy", they need to remain practical. 

Some photographers will wear a top with a logo. You may or may not find this acceptable, and your view may be effected by the colouring and size of any logo on display.

So, do ask. You may be glad you did!

Who can get married in a cathedral?

Can anyone get married in a cathedral? Not surprisingly, the answer is no.

A cathedral must rank as one of the grandest places to have your wedding, if not the grandest. I recently photographed a wedding at Salisbury Cathedral…. and wow! I’ve seen some churches, but the sheer scale of Salisbury Cathedral makes it extremely impressive.

The couple didn’t just rock up and ask to be wed there. Oh no. A cathedral has its own parish (in this case the Cathedral Close), so those worshipping there on a regular basis can count it as “their church”. By chance my wedding couple actually lived outside the Close, but had long been welcomed to the congregation. Even so they had to apply to the Archbishop of Canterbury to be allowed to hold their wedding in Salisbury. Apparently the agreement sent to them was something akin to the Magna Carter or some Royal charter, very impressive and in keeping with the venue itself.

As with many places of worship, be warned. The professional photographer can be restricted in what they do. This is, of course, always to be respected… and even then a real treat.

When to have speeches at a wedding

"When do we have the speeches? It’s after the meal isn’t it?"

Well, not always.

There aren’t the wedding rules like there used to be. So why not make your wedding day suit you? I often hear myself encouraging Brides and Grooms to “Build it how you want it, because you really can!”

OK, so more often than not when I photograph a wedding the speeches do occur after the Wedding breakfast. But there has been a trend over the last few years to “do your own thing”. The main reason for moving the speeches seems to be in consideration of the speakers themselves. Let’s face it most people aren’t used to standing up in front of a packed room and waxing lyrically for 5 or 10 minutes. It’s a nervy/scary situation for most involved, and the anticipation could potentially ruin their enjoyment of the lovely food put before them (if it’s touched at all)!

So what are the options?

The most popular variation is to do the speeches before the Wedding Breakfast. Beware here, depending on meal time your guests may be hungry so pushing back the food might not be well received! I have also seen speeches take place between courses, but as a rule Chefs hate this because they are trying to get hot food out on time. The other option, which I have seen quite a few times (although it doesn’t help with the above paragraph), is to do the speeches before or during the dessert.

By the way, photographing the speeches can be a joy. The Bride and Groom rarely know what’s going to be said and consequently there can be some great expressions which all make for wonderful wedding photos.

Wedding rings, here are some ideas

Choosing a wedding ring? Not so easy is it! There are plenty of shopping options now: Reading, Basingstoke, Salisbury, good online services, Birmingham's Jewellery Quarter (excellent choice and service!), Hatton Garden etc. You'll receive loads of great advice whichever route you take. But where do you start? Well, style is a good place, so take a look at what I've been seeing at my weddings. Obviously some styles suit some fingers better than others, so you really need to try rings on before making a firm decision. Once you know the style you can then start considering what materials... and then watch the prices rocket, but hey, it's once in a lifetime and you knew at the outset it wasn't going to be cheap!

All About Those Group Shots!

As a Wedding Photographer I see one wedding matter that continually baffles Brides and Grooms to be. And really it's hardly surprising, because in truth it's a subject that varies from couple to couple and depends on a number of factors that aren't always obvious. When to do them, how many to do, and who should be in them? I am, of course, talking about the formal Group Shots. Straight forward you might think, but a part of your special day that can easily trip you up.

What makes the Group Shots difficult for people is that there are no definitive rules about organising this part of the day. It's all about personal choice! Let's face it, most of you haven't been married before so you're bound to need a little help. If you've been a wedding guest you will know that the group photos are a feature of the day. Now you're in the hot seat where do you start? Well, a good wedding photographer will offer guidance, and you need to think about the following things.



The first thing we have to remember is that your wedding day is just that, yours! Don't let other people (family, friends, or even a photographer) tell you how it must be. What YOU want YOUR wedding day to be like should dictate everything. When it comes to photography some couples love being in front of the camera, some don't. This alone can contribute to your Group Shot decisions! You will be in most, if not all of the pictures. So during the photography time you won't be chatting to guests, enjoying the party, or relaxing. And what of your guests? It's generally accepted that there will be photographs at weddings, but how quickly will they get bored? Won't they want to spend time with you? You have to decide.... what's it to be? Wedding or photo shoot, or something inbetween? 'Inbetween' is what most people go for. They want the formal pictures for their album, and they want their family and friends to have them too. There's no getting away from it, having some Group Shots is a necessity. However, I am often told "We don't want the photography to take over the day". Ultimately it's important to get the balance right. You will have to decide what works best for you.



A big factor is time. One thing is for certain, when the Group Shots can take place is fairly limited. Mostly they occur somewhere between the end of the ceremony and the start of the Wedding Breakfast (so this could be at the church/ceremony, or reception venue... or both). Usually this amounts to 1 1/2 to 2 hours.

Sounds like plenty of time.... But before you rush off and compose a huge list be sure to deduct time for the following:

  • Guests congratulating you after the ceremony (Often underestimated - this will be 10 minutes+),

  • Confetti (There goes another 10 minutes),

  • Travelling (If applicable, ? minutes),

  • Mingling with the guests for drinks and canapés (It's your party, take part! Ask yourselves again WHAT DO YOU WANT YOUR WEDDING DAY TO BE LIKE?)

  • Wedding Couple Portraits (Portraits of you in all your finery are a must, even if it's only for 15 minutes don't miss this opportunity! You do need to consider how much time you want to put aside for this and again your WHAT DO YOU WANT YOUR WEDDING DAY TO BE LIKE thoughts will play a big part in this decision)

  • Receiving line (If applicable, on arrival at the venue or prior to the Wedding Breakfast easily 15/20 minutes)

  • Speeches (More and more now these occur before the Wedding Breakfast. If this is the case for you the speeches could eat into photography time as the venue will work to the time food needs to be delivered- typically 30mins).

  • Other requirements e.g. private time, detour drive in the wedding car, ice cream van arrival etc

Suddenly that 1 1/2 - 2 hour window doesn't look so big!!

My advice - as a couple spend 15/20 minutes with your photographer, do spend time with your guests, and then allocate some Group Shot time. But again, you will have to decide what works best for you.



You need to allow 3-5 minutes per group. Straight away you can see that 10 Group Shots will take between 30 and 50 minutes! The exposure only takes a second, but getting people in front of the camera and properly ordered and posed takes the time. The bigger the group, the longer it will take. A group with the elderly, the infirm, and/or children is also likely to take longer.

I know many photographers who like to limit the formal groups to 6! And Hugo Bernard (Royal Wedding Photographer) only ever does 3 (the Bride & Groom, the Bride & Groom plus both immediate families, and everyone)!!! However, I don't think either approach is realistic. Our families and friendships are often complicated networks which deserve individual attention. Think about what you'd want in an album and who would want a print on their mantelpiece. The three areas to concentrate on are: Family (immediate & extended), Wedding Party (Bridesmaids & Groomsmen), and Friends. Try to avoid breaking groups down too much e.g. 1)Bride + Sister, 2) Bride + Brother, when there's nothing wrong with combining the two.

For all of you now begging for a comprehensive list of every conceivable group, I apologise. I am not going to oblige. Such a list simply will not help! There are no rules as to who should be in your Group Shots or how many you should have. It is a personal choice and only you know what and who matters!

Just remember, always have half an eye on WHAT DO YOU WANT YOUR WEDDING DAY TO BE LIKE and HOW MUCH TIME DO WE HAVE. From my experience, it really should be possible to cover all bases in 10 - 15 formal Group Shots. But yet again, you will have to decide what works best for you.



For this part of the day, more than any other, your photographer has to be organised. The old cliché of "Fail to prepare, prepare to fail" is never truer. Expect your photographer to request a list of the Group Shots that you want. Each photographer will have their own system, and I like to know exactly who is involved in each picture. So a sample group on one of my lists looks something like  Bride & Groom + Brides Parents: Katie & Ryan + Jane & Colin. This way there is no confusion and (in a big group) nobody gets left out!

Having one of your Wedding Party rounding up people for each formal group is also crucial. The trick is to have someone who is happy to raise their voice (they don't need to know everyone). They use your list and get the next group together, ready to go. It's also nice to have a member of your Wedding Party involved as they are rightly regarded as one of your trusted assistants on the day. There is something more personal about using one of your friends or family in this way that guests relate to. Being told what to do by a hired hand (photographer) is always less appealing!



I know all this is somewhat tedious, and dare I say it, difficult and sometimes even controversial (particularly with family). Your best plan of action is to deal with it head on and at least a couple of weeks before the big day. As you've seen the Group Shots aren't just about photography. Your decisions will effect a large part of your wedding day. Don't leave it to chance or expect it to work out. If you don't carefully think about what you want your day to be like, or you don't allocated enough time, you may well regret it. Finally, do liaise with your photographer, they're the experts and will be as keen as you to make sure everything runs smoothly! Good luck with everything, and above all enjoy your day!!!