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Mr & Mrs Cooper | The White Swan, Arundel

Daniel & Vicky were a lovely young couple I met early in 2015 planning for their 2016 wedding at St George’s Church in Eastergate followed by their reception at The White Swan, Arundel. As with every wedding, we had a test shoot on a cold and blustery day in March to prepare them for their big day. I love a cold day, it encourages us all to be snuggly and cosy!

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Daniel and Vicky were to be married in a small church in a village on the south coast. St George’s in Eastergate is a stunning, yet petit, building with wonderful exposed beams and original stained glass windows. Sadly, Spring was yet to appear on this May afternoon so there was a mildly damp moment as Vicky arrived at the Church driven by her father and accompanied by her bridesmaids and mum. Vicky, however seemed unfazed by the showers as she patiently had her veil fixed before entering the church to meet her awaiting groom.

I love that moment of anticipation between the bride’s arrival and the groom being made aware. The air is suddenly filled with excitement! The music starts to play, their eyes meet, hands touch, songs sung, vows shared and that magical first kiss as newlyweds!

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Daniel and Vicky were keen to share their special day with their family and closest friends. The rain inhibited us during the end of the ceremony from using the outside space, but the inside of the church was a great spot to capture their nearest and dearest before they headed off to The White Swan, Arundel for the reception. You would never guess from these pictures that it was sheet rain outside!

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I had a few moments with the new Mr & Mrs Cooper alone before they joined their guests at The White Swan, Arundel. With a little help from Daniel’s mum to keep me and my camera dry we were able to capture a few portraits of the newlyweds around the church grounds. I’m very grateful that the rain, although still present, wasn’t strong enough to drench us at that moment!! Daniel and Vicky are big fans of black and white images, so I enjoyed finding spots that lent themselves to the bold contrasts that black and white photography brings.

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As we arrived at The White Swan, Arundel Daniel and Vicky were greeted by their awaiting family and friends before sitting down to a wedding breakfast. The speeches came first, however, to allow the delicious food to not be marred by the nervous anticipation that comes with public speaking! Amazingly, Daniel had also been putting the finishing touches to the wedding cake he had baked that very morning! (I can attest it tasted delicious!!)

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Before the evening party started, there was still a good pocket of time for me to be able to capture some shots of Daniel and Vicky and their Bridal Party. Thankfully the rain had come to a stop by this point so we put to good use the green space and the spiral staircase that is at the back of the function room of The White Swan, Arundel.

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To complete the wedding collection, Daniel and Vicky had chosen a Young Book by Graphistudio which I delivered recently alongside some parent copies (please excuse the iPhone pics!!). I was chuffed to bits that the image I had chosen to go inside the box (the final image below) was also one of their favourites that they had already printed and framed! Many congratulations Mr & Mrs Cooper, I hope you love married life and treasure your memories of the day for years to come!


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Mr & Mrs Elliott | St Peters, Brighton | Long Furlong Barn

The wedding of Mr & Mrs Elliott at St Peters Church, Brighton, followed by the reception at Long Furlong Barn, Clapham.

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There are so many routes I can go down to approach this blog, but I think I’m going to try to go down the kindness road, rather than the teasing and mickey-taking that could happen. You see, we know Jim, we know him really well. He used to rent a room from us, plays in a band with my husband and friends, is a founding member of the Push Community that my husband  started a few years ago. We also shoot & video together sometimes, him being an ace videographer that we use for our music videos (me an inexperienced second following his command -and occasionally ignoring him totally!), and he a fab assistant at weddings for me from time to time.

Now, Jim’s relationship history was a bit of a disaster, and I mean with a capital D. It was becoming a standing joke that there would be a tale to be told when he was asked about his current state of affairs, he could have written a book. So, it was to our surprise when we met Olivia that she was normal. When I say normal, I mean she’s hot, stunningly gorgeous. She’s also intelligent, bright, strong, passionate. An independent character, full of faith, who happened to have fallen for our mate! As we got to know them more we could see they were a perfect match, bringing out positive sides to Jim that we hadn’t seen before, so I was really honoured that they asked me to be their wedding photographer. No pressure!! Jim & Olivia had met at St Peters Church in Central Brighton, although not a home church for either of them, it was fitting that they chose it as the location for their wedding.

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On the wedding morning I popped into Olivia’s parents house on the way to St Peters so I could capture some moments as she got ready. Sadly, the weather was not great for the day, but the colour palate that had been chosen really made up for the lack of sunshine. Beautiful sunflowers adorned the bouquets as well as white roses, and Olivia’s bridesmaids were wearing lovely pale yellow. I have to admit, when I asked Olivia’s mum to bring down the dress for me so I could photograph it, I got a little emotional. It was stunning! Full bodice with textured lace detailing that flowed tight around the hips to open up to a fishtail skirt. With a full length veil and an additional sheer lace sleeved top. This dress was going to look amazing.

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As Olivia came down the stairs towards her awaiting Dad, it was lovely to see the emotion in both of them. A few snaps with them all, then I was heading off to Brighton to catch Jim at St Peters.

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As I mentioned earlier, the weather forecast wasn’t amazing, so we hadn’t planned for much outdoor wedding photography at the church, which was lucky, as the building was surrounded by scaffolding that had to be 100m tall!! The Church is going through some major renovation work inside and out, but it still managed to invoke feelings of reverence and sanctity. I can’t wait to see it complete. I managed to grab Jim and some of the boys while they were all busy milling about. Jim seemed….well. He was obviously looking forward to the day that was about to unfold, but you could tell there were some nerves kicking in!

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St Peters filled up, everyone got into place…Jim’s best man Rex was leading worship for the most part so rather than being by his side, he was up on the stage ready to break into song. This was a blessing in disguise as I was not permitted near the front, so I had tasked Rex with the job of catching a few snaps of Olivia walking down the aisle from his iPhone (I know, groan…..but beggars can’t be choosers here!!) Then, the hush happened. Olivia and her bridal party arrived. Walking down the aisle with her father towards her groom, they both looked so happy.

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The service was full of worship, prayers, vows and love. It was full of the faith that Jim & Olivia hold so dear and important. There were children playing in the aisles, smiles, tears and laughter. Our mate Jim was married. Amazing!!

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Did I mention the weather was awful?? After the ceremony we sped to Long Furlong Barn to be met with a wall of rain. A literal wall of rain. Thankfully there were two barns to entertain the guests. One was set up for dining, the other contained games, hay bales, snacks, cards, giant Jenga, giant connect 4 and a bar! I grabbed the newlyweds for a quick (dry) portrait in the private bridal suite so they could carry on enjoying their guests.

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Guests arrived, played games, chatted nibbled on the snacks provided while the caterers finished cooking their giant hog roast complete with wood-fired pizzas and paella. As the guests were sitting down to eat, this was the moment the skies cleared. We grabbed 10 minutes to venture outside to take a few more portraits before the heavens opened again. The setting at Long Furlong Barn is stunning. Located near a village called Clapham, 10 minutes from Worthing, it sits in the South Downs National Park. Surrounded by rolling hills, this valley location has a backdrop that changes with the weather and crop seasons. Today, the field was partly ploughed which created a great line for the eye. I like lines. Have I mentioned that before??!

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The speeches were much cause for hilarity, if only there was a video. As is tradition, the groom generally offers the thanks for those who have contributed to their day…Jim kindly thanked the Father of the Bride for the gift of his daughter, that he “planned to unwrap slooooooowly, then fast” later that night. It was actually hard to photograph this as I found myself laughing so hard!!

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After the meal, guests helped themselves to cake and a sweetie stand. Once suitably fuelled with sugar the party really started. So, Jim is in a band right? The Deloreans. Pretty awesome band (even if I do say so myself, go check them out people!) They came to play. How does this work you ask? Well, my husband is the dep-guitarist for the band so he stood in for Jim. As some of the members are the same, they also played a combined set with The 88’s (also amazing, check them out too….no, not just because my hot hubby is in it!!). So while they played some amazing party hits there was a limbo game set up on the dance floor. I challenge any bride to resist!! The band surprised Jim with the Steel Panther cover of The Backstreet Boys “I want it that way” that he’d been requesting (and been denied) for years as an addition to their repertoire. Jim also got up to play! He totally rocked out, even contributing to dance moves that he is usually pretty immune to!

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As the party slowed to a close, guests and their children began to leave, it was time for Jim & Olivia to make their exit. Under a tunnel of arms, clutching his iPad, Jim led his beautiful bride Olivia off into the distance to start their married life together.

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Congratulations Mr & Mrs Elliott, we can’t wait to see more of you as you grow together in your life journey.

Much Love, Fiona xx



Fiona Mills

Choosing Your Wedding Photographer

After many conversations over the years I have put together a guide on how to choose your wedding photographer. I hope it helps you.

Step 1: Ask A Friend.

It is so easy to tap into Google “your location”+ “Wedding Photographer” and have a zillion hits in under a nano-second, but where do you go from there? Clicking on a few will certainly give you a great starting point, often though, you may find that just doing a shout out amongst your friends will give you a list of personally recommended local photographers that won’t have made it on Google until at least page 5!! As these photographers may have shot their weddings/christenings/family portraits etc, your friends will be able to tell you if they had good, bad or amazing experiences…you may even have walked past and complemented some of these images as you’ve sat in their lounge having a cuppa!

Asking your friends on Facebook will net you a good response.
Asking your friends on Facebook will net you a good response.

Step 2: Stalk Your List (Research)

You’re armed with a handful of potential photographers, your computer and a large coffee (or glass of red!!)…start stalking them. Check out their websites, online portfolios and prices. Is there a style you are seeing that you really like or don’t like? Have you a budget in mind for your wedding photography/videography? Set up a board on Pinterest and start to catalogue the type of things you have liked the look of. Are there a few photographers you’ve come across that you would like to find out more about? create a shortlist of ones to meet.

Check out the online profiles of potential photographers.
Check out the online profiles of potential photographers.

Step 3: Define Your Details

Style: As you have been researching, you may have found a particular photography style that stands out to you, be it formal; black & white; digital vs film; light and airy; quirky etc. Many photographers will display an array of styles in their portfolios as they will be adaptable to the clients needs, but checking out their bio may give you some insight into what their main shooting style is. Again, a portable list of examples like a scrap book, or Pinterest is a great tool to use when you meet potential photographers, but be aware every picture is unique to a set of circumstances: location; people; lighting; time of day; equipment used etc etc so it is very unlikely that a photographer will be recreating those images on your wedding day, rather, they will be using your inspiration to inspire them creatively.

Price: A wedding is made up of so many factors that all come with a price. Some items are administrative (registering your intent to marry) and others are product or labour based (the catering, for example). Some are short term (the flowers & the canapés) and some are long term (the wedding rings and the photographs). It is really important to look at your overall budget and decide how you want to divide it. It wouldn’t necessarily be the wisest choice to blow 50% of your budget on a harpist while you sign the register while leaving 5% for your wedding photographer.

Portioning up Your Wedding Budget
Portioning up Your Wedding Budget

You may find the price of a wedding photographer frighteningly high or shockingly low…myself and a number of photographers I know generally agree that there are 3 main brackets for wedding photography prices: Low; Medium & High.

Low: A photographer who is in the low bracket will usually charge under £500 to shoot your wedding. In my experience, they are usually someone who is just starting out or working to get more experience in their chosen field. They may also be lower in price as they don’t offer the same post production service & finished products than those in a medium-high bracket will.The risk with choosing a photographer from a low price bracket is the potential lack of experience and the use of equipment that isn’t of a professional grade.They may not have the experience of what to do in situations when things go wrong, and may also not have sufficient back up gear. On the other hand, they may be incredibly talented photographers who just need a break and the experience to put their skills to the test. Due to their lack of experience, they may try harder and go above and beyond their duty to really make an impact….and they may be great in a crisis!

Medium: A medium priced photographer should be around the £1000-£2500 price range. This may sound like a lot, but what you are paying for is more than someone for a day. Generally photographers in this bracket are experienced in their field and will have a host of digital and actual portfolios to share with you. The gear they use will be of a high professional grade and they will also be carrying spares! An assistant will usually be on board and this will be part of the cost, and the photographer will spend a considerable amount of time on post production (editing). For me a wedding from planning to finished product usually uses between 50-80 hours of work. You should expect a photographer in this bracket to be fully insured, offer planning and preparation as part of your package and offer a number of options as to how you would like your finished product. E.g:  usb stick/online gallery; wedding albums; wall art; canvasses; prints etc. You may also find these photographers are very aware of the current economic climate , so will be able to guide you in how to cut corners and shave your budget and offer you options that suit your budget. They may also offer budget-tipping extras like: videography; pop-up-studio; engagement/trash the dress shoot; hand made albums etc. Many will also have started their journey to be aligned with a professional photographic association (BIPP/MPA/SWPP etc). If you’re lucky, they’ll be winning awards too and recognised in their field!

High: Those in the high bracket start their fees in excess of £3-5000. A photographer in this field will usually be exceptionally experienced with a standard of finished images and products that lend itself to the high price range. Their equipment will be of an ultra-high level pro grade and assistants on the shoot will come as standard. These photographers will often have developed a style that is unique to them and highly sought after by clients, rather than the med-low brackets who may be more flexible to the clients style needs. They may also have a celebrity following, think Hello / OK magazine wedding photography here!

When: Have you set a date yet for your wedding? It may seem silly, but getting your heart set on a photographer before setting your date could be dangerous! Also, have you through about how long you would like your day captured professionally for? From getting ready? Just the ceremony? First Dance? Finest party moves? You may find the length of coverage is a negotiation between your budget and dream photographer!

Step 4: Meet Your Shortlisted Photographers

This is not just an ideal opportunity for you to meet with a potential photographer, but for them to meet you too. It can be an incredibly emotional time on your wedding day, so it is important to feel comfortable with the person who is likely to be there, taking those intimate photos and walking that emotional journey in close contact with you. Aside from all the practical stuff, you are likely to feel a vibe, or have a gut feeling about the photographer. If your gut says an emphatic “NO” chances are that connection isn’t there. Strike them off your list.
Practically it is important to meet face-to-face, or if that isn’t possible at first, schedule a telephone conversation. Ideally meet with the photographer as a couple, if not, bring someone you trust with you, a family member, friend etc. Check out their portfolios, find out who they are and how they are likely to conduct themselves on your wedding day. Discuss your needs, show examples of what you like and don’t like and see if this is something the photographer gets.

See if your photographer gets your ideas for the day.
See if your photographer gets your ideas for the day.

Are they feeling your day….do they have ideas that could capture the vibe of who you are as a couple? Tell the photographer your dreams. Us photographers love to be creative, you may find we have something up our sleeves that isn’t advertised. Don’t be afraid to talk budgets! It is a real part of the deal that shouldn’t be embarrassing or awkward to bring up. If you’ve done your research you’ll know whether you’ve scheduled a meet with a photographer whose prices start at £1750, when your allotted budget is £750. Do be honest as to what you can and cannot afford, but don’t forget, you wouldn’t pop to TopShop and expect to pay half the ticket price just because it’s not in your budget.
Get a quote. You may get this in person at the meeting, but also get it in writing with details so you can compare and refer back to it when making your decisions. This will likely be emailed or posted to you after the meet. Ask questions. Do they need a deposit? When is completed payment due? How long do the images take? How long does an album take? What is the deal with copyright? What if my Mum wants an image? Who else will be there on the day? Hidden costs? Insured? etc etc. Take notes!! Remember, you should feel at ease with your chosen photographer, if you don’t, it may reflect in the images.

Step 5: Choosing Your Photographer

You’ve done the research, made your budget, set the date, booked your venue and met a bunch of photographers…..so, how do you choose? My first instinct would be to go with your gut, but that isn’t always practical or financially viable.
Break your shortlist down. Get rid of any you didn’t feel any sort of personal connection with, then look at your budget. Are there any on your shortlist that are wildly out of your budget? Unless you can shuffle your finances, maybe they also need to come off your shortlist. You may be left with one or two strong contenders at this point.

There is no hard or fast rule with how to make this final decision. For some, the image “wow factor” may be the deciding vote. For some, the personality of the photographer. For others, it may even be down to the £50 difference on the quote. If it is a small difference in the quotes it may be worth a quick call to your favourite choice to see if £50-£100 can be shaved off somewhere. If you still can’t make your mind up, other than meeting up a second time, you may just need to chat with your fiancé, sleep on it and just go with your gut!!

Good luck!