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Arundel Wedding Photographer

How To Plan a Wedding

How To Plan a Wedding

Eeeeek, the festive period has just passed, you’ve got a new bit of bling on your ring finger, learning your new title of fiance, and January has started with a to-do-list to get your nuptials sorted! Are you in Camp Overwhelmed or Camp I’ve-been-planning-this-since-I-was-seven??!! If it’s the latter… High five to you, let’s chat more, you can give me tips. If it’s the former, I bet the first thing you did was google, “how to plan a wedding”?!

Firstly! CONGRATULATIONS!!!!!!! This is wonderful news!! Just take a moment to bask in that glow!

Although planning a wedding is a big deal, don’t forget that this period of being engaged is also a pretty special time in your life too, one that’s not usually repeated. It’s like that liminal space between dating/being a couple to the actually formalities of legally being bound to your chosen life partner forever. And there’s a whole lot of planning that happens in that liminal space. Buying a house, having children and planning a wedding are up there on the list of the most stressful things you can do as a couple.

Let me help you break it down. I’m going to try to work on this chronologically in the ideal to-do order. I’m not going to tell you how long this should take, some people have a short engagement of weeks and months, some go years and years… it all depends on your budget, timeframe, availability of your must have factors and how focused your organisation can be.

1: Post on the ‘gram / wedding email

If it isn’t on social media, it’s not real!!

Haha!! Just kidding, this has nothing to do with how to plan a wedding!! Socials aren’t for all, but if you’re gonna pop your bling on display, it’s a great excuse for a trip to the salon for a manicure LOL

This well organised groom-to-be knew he was going to propose on a certain day, so booked me for a quick shoot on that day to make sure their announcement was ready to go in picture form!

In all seriousness though, instagram aside… to avoid an inbox of doom and lost threads of emails, set up a wedding email address so when you start planning, all your supplier correspondence is filtered to that account. This is simple enough to do with any mail provider (gmail/hotmail/yahoo etc) and you can both set it up on your devices to share the wedmin load!

engagement shoot chichester

2: Set a budget

You may have been saving for this very moment. Planning to budget on the go. Or even have family who would like to support you and contribute to your wedding day.

Whichever way the money ends up in your pocket, try to discuss and decide between you what services you value the most. Is it all about the epic party? The album that will be looked at forever? Or is it all about that dress?

When you start looking at quotes, you’ll probably realise that everything costs far more than you anticipated. Expect the assigned budgets for different services to have wiggle room as you move funds from one service budget to another. You don’t want to be spending more than you value on flowers if your priority was actually the rings which you end up compromising on.

3: Nail in your date and venue

This is going to be the deciding factor that will determine how the rest of your planning is structured and within what time frame. Without an official date, no other suppliers can be booked that require one (think caterers, photographers, videographers, entertainment, registrars, outfit hire, transport etc)

You may have your ideal season or venue already in mind, so scheduling in some viewings is a great place to start.  Don’t forget the added bonus of google images. If you’re viewing in January for a summer wedding, the venue will look different, so be sure to also use their portfolio and the internet to get an idea what the venue looks like in your preferred season.

Use wedding fairs as a tool to look around venues. These usually occur throughout the year and have a host of other suppliers to get your inspiration going. They’re also a great place to go later down the line if you’re just after those final services to finish off your plans (or a glass of bubbles and a taste of free cake!!).

Once you’ve booked your venue, do check what’s included (a planner/designated coordinator on the day/catering/registrar organised/PA system etc). You may find the services provided within your venue may well help you with how to plan a wedding.

If the venue booking seems overwhelming as a place to start, I’ve written a more detailed blog about that here: How to choose your wedding venue

Once you’ve got your venue you can start to finalise your guest list with the knowledge of your venue’s capacity. Depending on your plans and whether your ceremony is in a different location to the reception you may need to segment this into ceremony/reception/evening party

How to plan a wedding

4: Start booking vendors

Vendors and suppliers may be limited to how many bookings can be taken on a single day. Us photographers, for example, can only be at one wedding a day so dates can book up well in advance. Others suppliers, like entertainment agencies, may have a number of options on their books but once those options are booked, they’re booked.

To avoid disappointment, I would consider now the time to book the following services:

  • photography
  • videography
  • caterers (if not already provided)
  • registrar/celebrant (if not included)
  • band/dj
  • hair & make-up-artist
  • stationers

Looking at these services comes with its own level of research and preference. It’s down to you to work out what your wants and needs are in these areas, as well as your budget and priority value. I would say, however, that research, looking at reviews and evidence of their work is pretty key! Also chatting with those suppliers is important to get a feel for how you’ll get along. If you can’t stand to be in the same room as you’re hair & MUA, yet you love their work, that discomfort may set the tone early on in your day (FYI this does not apply to the lovely Toni Todd featured below!)

I plan to do more detailed blogs on these services in the future, but for now I have a regular Monday Mini-Blog up on my Insta with tips on how to choose your wedding photographer, go check it out here!

How to plan a wedding

5: Start scouting for your wedding dress / suit

You may be thinking “whaaaaaa??!! Already??” but yes, already. Many bridal shops are now appointment only, which means scheduling slots into your weeks and spare time to start looking at gowns. If you’re lucky enough to find the perfect dress off the peg with minimal alterations, you’re winning. Many are made to order, or come with a generic structure that will still require bespoke alterations and adjustments. I have a more detailed guide into choosing your wedding dress here.

The same goes for suits, if a hire company is required, it may still need booking in to ensure all the members of the party are catered for with the right sizes for the right day. If the suit is going to be tailored to fit, time needs to be allowed for this to happen (as well as the fitting and measuring appointments.

And don’t get me started if you’re planning radical health regimes in the lead up to your wedding!! Making sure you allow enough changes for adjustments becomes even more important. This post may be about how to plan a wedding, but I have written one about how to look and feel your best on your wedding day.

how to plan a wedding

Chichester Cathedral Wedding

6: Send out ‘save the date’ cards or invitations

By now you will have booked the venue and hopefully some other key players in your supplier team. Each service should provide you with a timeline of any action points they require between booking and your wedding date (booking make-up trials/dress fittings/menu tastings/engagement shoots/music choices etc). Make a note of these micro details and when they’re supposed to happen.

You may also be closer still to getting your outfits. It’s time to nail that guestlist and get those invites out!! It may also be time to look at a gift registry, should you wish to include a link to that too.

I’m going to be real here. People can be a total pain in the backside (and we’re likely all guilty of it)….you get those invites out and even make sure to put a RSVP by date on it AND STILL you are waiting, chasing up and using precious energy on invite admin. It’s frustrating to say the least.

It may be worth investing in setting up a wedding website which can handle your save the guest lists/dates/invites/RSVP’s/gift registry/details of the day etc. (here’s a site for example that does this).

If you’re more analogue than digital, then make sure to create some sort of spreadsheet so you can keep track of replies/dietary requirements etc.

If you’ve hired a lovely stationer for your invites, consider also that they may also be able to provide you with bespoke stationary on the day (order of service, welcome signs, table name cards, menu sheets etc)

How to plan a wedding

7: Research and book additional suppliers

Consider the suppliers you’ve already booked the macro detail of the day, and you’ll have an action timeline for those already…. Now’s the time for the micro details, the threads that will tie in the theme, style and energy of your day, connecting all the larger pieces together.

This list is by no means exhaustive, whose services you’ll need to engage will depend on how you see your day shaping up, but here goes!

  • florist
  • cake
  • rings
  • venue decor
  • additional entertainment (music for drinks reception/magician/tattoo artist/lawn games / clay pigeon shooting etc)
  • additional details (dance floor flip flops / photo booth / wedding favours)
  • additional catering (ice cream van / pizza van / sweet cart /cocktail bar etc)
  • transport (for couple and/or guests too)
  • honeymoon (don’t forget that!!!!)

how to plan a wedding

lifestyle commercial photography west sussex

8: The final purchases

Pretty much everything major and minor should now be purchased (or as close to a decision as you can), it’s time to make sure you have some final details bought and ready.. you are really nailing how to plan a wedding!! This is actually quite a fun part as it’s some more personal touches, and you may already have sourced these earlier on, but if not, don’t forget these:

  • Bridesmaids/groomsmen/flower girl/page boy outfits including any shoes, jewellery and accessories
  • Your shoes!! Make sure you and your fiance have enough time to practise wearing your shoes inside so they get nice and comfortable for your wedding day.
  • Underwear. A nice treat for the both of you on your wedding day… 😉
  • Jewellery (including watches, cufflinks, earings, necklaces etc)
  • Bridal party/groomsmen gifts
  • Gift for each other
  • Any gifts etc to be given out during the speeches

how to plan a wedding

9: The final arrangements

This is it, you’re so close!! It’s all down to final arrangements and logistics now!

If you haven’t already, these are the final things you will need to make sure are organised, and signed off with whoever needs to know. Also, make sure that whatever is planning to happen on your day, someone other than you and your fiance are in the know… your wedding day is your time to enjoy, so make sure you have one or two people you can rely on who knows what should happen where & when.

Anyway, back to those final bits and pieces. Here’s what you may need to do:

  • finalise any readings
  • choose music (for ceremony, reception backgrounds and reception party)
  • nail down your shot list with your photographer
  • finalise your order of service and timings of the day
  • arrange your seating plan
  • write your vows and speeches
  • book any last minute spa or beauty treatments
  • pick up your rings
  • pack for your honeymoon
  • drop off any items to the venue/s
  • ensure everyone knows their role

August syrencot wedding


That’s it!! You’ve made it!! All the epic time, energy, though and hard-earned dosh has gone into this day. Sit back, take in the vibe and enjoy every last minute! You deserve it!

xX Fiona Xx

How to plan a wedding

Wedding health and fitness

Wedding Health & Fitness – How to prepare to look your best

Today on the blog we are looking at your wedding health and fitness and the things you can do to prepare to look and feel your best on your wedding day.


Starting to look after your skin before your wedding will not only leave you feeling more confident about your appearance, but most importantly will also give you better skin health.

Following a good skincare regime, drinking lots of water and even taking supplements like collagen are all great ways to get better skin. It helps with texture, reduces the ageing process and makes skin more vibrant.

Skincare Wedding Photographer

I follow a skincare regime tailored to me by Nikki, the Flawless Facialist in Worthing, and since I have been doing this I have seen a significant change in the appearance of my own skin. Having regular facials is also something I would highly recommend, perhaps combining this with regular infared treatments to repair your skin cells. Is there a recommended dermatologist/facialist in your area to set up a treatment plan to reach your skin goals in time for your wedding? This may even start a love affair with a new skincare routine taking you beyond your wedding day.

Anything that you are trying for the first time or if you are having your regular botox/fillers etc should definitely not be done too close to your wedding day, I would recommend doing this at least 2-3 weeks before your big day.

You should be wearing an SPF on your face everyday….even when it’s not sunny!!  This prevents sunburn, reduces the risk of skin cancer, and decreases the signs of early skin ageing.

Wedding health and fitness
Image copyright of patientfirst.com

Being mindful of what you are eating and drinking is vital to healthy skin as it all starts with our gut health. Consider food and drinks that are detoxifying, cleansing and anti inflammatory for example lemons, avocados, cucumber, celery, beetroot and green tea,

Sleep plays a huge role in how our skin looks, aim to get at least 7 hours of sleep. During sleep, your body prevents and repairs skin cell damage which will improve your skin’s appearance and its ability to protect against harmful elements.

Healthy skin is better looking skin!

Something else that I would highly recommend is having your colours done. This involves being advised by a trained colour consultant the colours that suit your skin tone, hair and eye colour. This would be super beneficial when you are choosing your wedding gown, bridesmaids dresses, makeup and even flowers and decor for the venue. Colour analysis really does work and will make an immediate visible difference to how you look and feel. I can recommend a fantastic colour consultant who is based in Horsham in West Sussex Colour Consultant Michaela at House of Colour

Colour ideas for Wedding Photographer


Chat with your hairdresser about your wedding hair goals. Even if your regular hair dresser isn’t part of your wedding day hair & make up team, they can help you with ensuring your hair health goals are met during your usual appointments. Regular trims will keep your lock looking healthy, shiny and split end free.

Find your wedding hair stylist early to discuss how you want your hair to look on your wedding day. Think about style, colours and cut. Pinterest is great place to get inspiration. Start making a board of ideas that you can share with your hairdresser & stylist. It’s vital that you have a trial to decide how you will have your locks on your wedding day. You most certainly don’t want any hair disasters on the day!

I’ve worked many times with Toni Todd Wedding Hair & Make up who is a genius in her craft, specialising in bridal hair (and make up) as well as running a successful hair salon.

If you are thinking of having a new colour or a drastic new hairstyle then this is NOT something that I would recommend before your wedding. You want to feel like you and this could really impact how you feel…..especially if you don’t like the result!

Supplements and hair masks are a great way to get your hair in the best condition leading up to your wedding. You can get some great supplements from Holland and Barrett. I use a company called British Supplements  and have had great results.

Being mindful, again, of what you are eating as your gut health will significantly impact the condition of your hair.

Wedding Hair careBody

Eating healthily with regular meals and staying hydrated is vital to a healthy body. What you eat and drink will have a big impact on your overall body image and how you feel. Consider fresh foods, grab some recipe books and try out some new healthy cuisines. I have found Gusto and Hello Fresh a great source of inspiration and healthy new meal ideas. I know I’ve said it before but lots of water is your friend! And cutting back on your alcohol intake will help with your overall well-being.

I wouldn’t recommend doing any drastic diets for weight loss before your wedding, unless that really is your intention, but just bear in mind dress and suit fittings. To look your best you will need to have adjustments for your changing shape. Ultimately having a positive healthy approach to your body leading up to your big day will result in you feeling more confident and great!

Making sleep and time to relax a priority, self care is a great way to look after your body.

If you are wearing a strapless dress then think about tan lines! If you are going to be sitting in the sun maybe invest in a strapless top like a bandeau. If a spray tan is your thing then be sure to do it a few days before the wedding. However, I don’t know about you, but I have had a few bad experiences with fake tan! So I would recommend trialing the spray tan maybe a few months before. I love a good body exfoliation for baby soft skin….so give this a go! You can buy great body scrubs but also treating yourself to a full body scrub at a salon is such a relaxing experience.

Strapless wedding dress


Getting regular exercise for your wedding health and fitness is a great idea leading up to your big day. Just 30 minutes of walking every day can help boost your mood and improve your health significantly.

Maybe consider a class that you’ve always wanted to try or maybe start running together. It will really boost your confidence and give you some quality time together leading up to your wedding that isn’t wedding related….because I’m sure that’s all you’ll be talking about!! Another option is a personal trainer….this is great for really targeting your specific needs and they will tailor you a programme that will get you the results that you want. I highly recommend Gemma at Reach Your Goal Women’s Fitness based in West Sussex. Check out her website here Reach Your Goals Women’s Fitness

Lifestyle commercial photography

Small goals……for example, if you’re choosing a dress that is strapless and your arms are something that you’d like to work on then maybe try some triceps dips or wall pushups. Adding little things like this into your daily routine can make a big change…..I do squats while brushing my teeth every morning!! I will of course get you in the best poses that enhance and flatter your shape, that’s what I’m there for!

Wiston House Wedding Photographer

Moving your body everyday will have a significant impact on how you feel about yourself. It doesn’t have to be a drastic change to your lifestyle, especially if you’ve been inactive for a long time, it’s best to start slowly in order to reduce your risk of injury. Things I would recommend are walking, swimming or try gentle exercises at home….YouTube is great for free classes in things like yoga and pilates.

wedding health and fitness,

I really hope this blog has helped you in the lead up to your big day and given you some helpful tips and inspiration for your wedding health and fitness. Most importantly it’s about you feeling great and being the best version of you on your wedding day!

Xx Fiona Xx

Wedding Health & Fitness – How to prepare to look your best

Health and fitness Wedding Photographer

Lythe Hill Hotel

Mr & Mrs Greenaway | Lythe Hill Hotel & Spa

I met Steve and Diane last year through a friend of mine who put them in touch with me as a potential wedding photographer for their upcoming nuptials. They were planning to get married at a lovely location called Lythe Hill Hotel & Spa in Haslemere, Surrey. Now, for those that know me, I’m always on the lookout for nice spa hotels….with 2 toddlers and a business & household to run I am partial to being treated by my loving husband now and then!!

Steve, Diane and I met up again at Lythe Hill Hotel to discuss and arrange the plan of their day, but also to scope out the land for suitable photographic spots whilst stalking them with my cameras to help get them prepared for being photographed on their wedding day. The hotel had many stunning spots: outdoor gazebo’s; ponds; bridges; acres of green landscaped lawns….but we became a little adventurous and wandered through the thickets and brambles to find a hidden bluebell crop. This is one of the shots from that day that Steve & Diane chose to have printed and mounted so their wedding guests could sign the mount before framing it, as a momento from the day.

Diane & Steve engagement
Hunting the bluebells on their engagement shoot

On the morning of the wedding day, I dropped Lee (my trusted No 2!) at Lythe Hill to capture Steve as he prepared for the ceremony with his son Dom. I made my way up the road to meet Diane at her sisters….I hadn’t counted on my sat-nav become a little confused in the small country roads and signal-free Surry hills. Thankfully a quick phone call later, we were all where we should be ready to go!

Steve & Dom
Steve & Dom suited & booted ready to go.

Diane, her sisters and her nieces & nephew were all at the house getting ready, as well as parents, husbands and dogs! It all seemed incredibly under control and calm however. Everyones hair and makeup was done, all that was left to do was get Diane in her dress. After clearing the room from all except one sister and niece (also a bridesmaid), Diane was helped into the most stunning ivory gown. It was simply elegant. The fabric curved and clung in all the right places, the neckline sat just off Diane’s shoulders with a classic brooch on one side and the train showed off it’s length without being flouncy or in the way. It really was elegant.

wedding dress detail

Diane's wedding shoes

Diane & the dress

Diane and her wedding dress

As their wedding day approached, we had all been eagerly watching the weather report as a rainy day had been forecast. This is not normally a problem, but Steve & Diane had originally planned on their ceremony being held outdoors on the lawns in the gazebo overlooking the pond. Despite more clement weather arriving for their wedding day, the grounds were quite wet from the previous nights rains, so they moved their ceremony to the stunning Garden Room with wooden beams and a great glass roof. They decorated it with handmade pompoms and bunting which complemented the pink and purple colour theme. It was here that Steve was waiting patiently, doing his best to show how nervous he wasn’t!

Steve waiting in the Garden Room

Steve waiting

As Diane travelled with her father to Lythe Hill, she was met by the rest of her bridesmaids who were waiting for her at the venue. This was also a momentous occasion for Nicky, Diane’s chief bridesmaid and niece as she would not only be leading the way down the aisle for her aunt….she was also the Hotel’s Wedding and Event’s Co-ordinator. nothing like a bit of pressure for the staff working that day!!

Diane arriving

Diane arriving

Here comes the part of the day that sets the butterflies in my stomach going, even now! The part where the Groom finally gets to watch his bride walk down the aisle towards him. The sun had come out and sunlight was streaming in through the glass roof of the Garden Room, really illuminating the colours that had been put together so thoughtfully. I must admit though, Steve still didn’t succumb to “normal Groom behaviour” as there were still no sign of any nervousness from him!

Diane & Steve

Diane & Steve

As friends and family looked on to witness Steve and Diane get married, very few could hold their amusement as the happy couple giggled their way through their vow taking….prompting a question from the registrar as to whether they were actually serious! I felt this just encapsulated the laughter and love they share together as a couple. I had certainly felt this on the previous occasions we had met together. They even managed to squeeze in some time to take a selfie whilst signing the register!

Diane & Steve Ceremony

Diane & Steve Ceremony

Diane & Steve Ceremony

After the ceremony, we spent some time taking some of the formal group shots, before whisking Diane & Steve away for a spell to capture some portraits of just the two of them. The weather held up beautifully. Considering it was due to be a rainy, stormy day, we were all very thankful to see the sun! Steve & Diane had become naturals at having their photo taken, especially after the Engagement Shoot session we had previously had. It was such a great way to get to know a couple better before their big day (and to get them used to being papped all day!!)

Lythe Hill Hotel

Lythe Hill Hotel

Lythe Hill Hotel

As well as the acres of greenery with the old tudor style buildings in the distance, the hotel also had some more modern options for photographic backdrops, including the wall of the Spa we were all desperate to have some time in!!

Lythe Hill Hotel

Lythe Hill Hotel

Lythe Hill Hotel

As Lee and I prepared our last shots for the day and Steve & Diane prepared to enter the Garden Room ready for the wedding breakfast, we lamented that we would not be able to stay for the party….especially as my husband was in the band, The 88’s!! Next time!!

Many congratulations Steve and Diane….May you continue your marriage with as much (if not more) laughter & love as which you entered it! It was a pleasure to serve you both.

Diane & Steve

CJ & Jon | The Engagement Shoot

Having known CJ and her family for many years, to say I’m excited to be shooting her wedding next month is an understatement!! I’ve been really blessed to have developed a great friendship with CJ and her fiancé Jon over this last year. Also, knowing the family, I have often had inside information and exciting tidbits about developments within their relationship that are yet to happen!The biggest secret so far has been “The Proposal”

The Trundle Spin
You spin me round round, baby right round….

Jon is an avid mountaineer and decided to combine his passion for CJ with that of scaling great heights. Last year, Jon went on a trek to climb Ama Dablam, a mountain in the Himalaya range in Eastern Nepal. Asides from doing the climb to raise money for charity and because he enjoys it, there was another mission. To carry and keep safe an engagement ring with which to propose to CJ. At the summit of Ama Dablam, Jon took a picture of the ring flanked by snow capped mountains. Upon his return, this ring picture was printed into a canvas and hidden from CJ for a WHOLE MONTH before presenting it to her, gift wrapped on Christmas Day. Needless to say, she said yes!! How cool is that!!

Ama Dablam heights
A proposal with a difference

So, when we discussed what kind of Engagement Shoot they wanted we decided to combine both of their loves. The Trundle near Chichester, West Sussex was chosen as although not a mountain, it is high (for me). An Iron Age Hill Fort that boasts spectacular views of West Sussex and Hampshire. Jon, being from Bristol, hadn’t been to The Trundle. We also decided to go to the beach in Bognor Regis as it is a place that CJ is often to be found, relaxing, walking, paddling & hanging out with friends and family. The beach is a place close to her heart so it seemed the perfect place to capture her with the man who heart she holds.

CJ & Jon at The Trundle
Feeling On Top Of The World

The Trundle was a great place to take pictures. With fabulous views for miles and scenery awash with different shades of green it felt incredibly peaceful. It was also pretty low on human traffic. That gave us a great chance to slowly meander our way around pausing here and there to take pictures, look at the flora and fauna and have a general natter about the forthcoming wedding.

Sitting in the glory
Watching The World Go By
CJ & Jon at The Trundle
Trying hard to ignore the creepy crawlies
CJ & Jon at The Trundle
Happy Faces

After we’d exhausted The Trundle and tried to locate our homes in the views we set off back down to Bognor Regis and the beach. Rather than diving straight in, we had a coffee and ice-cream break. This gave us time to plan the finer details of the wedding day that will be happening at Opengate Church in Bognor Regis and Southend Barns in Donnington. It also gave the tide the chance to retreat some more!

CJ & Jon on Bognor Beach
Watch out for those rocks!!

The great thing about the beach is there are a plethora of backdrops and natural props to use. Fishermen leave their boats up on the stones, families lovingly decorate their beach huts and nature has blessed us with sand, sea, pebbles and giant rocks!! We unanimously decided we’d have a shorter session on the beach as the air had developed a windy chill and our tummies grumbled louder for food. We couldn’t resist, however, pausing to take pictures with this fabulous beach hut that gave a cheerful end to a lovely day of photos and wedding talk.

CJ & Jon @ Bognor Beach
The lingering smell of the fisherman’s haul is not off-putting at all, no really…
CJ & Jon @ Bognor Beach
Summer Lovin’
CJ & Jon @ Bognor Beach
Salty Kisses, Summer Wishes

Roll on August 28th!!! Can’t wait guys!!

wedding day photography, london photographer, central london, devonshire terrace

Mr & Mrs Jennings | Devonshire Terrace, London

For those that know me, May the 4th is usually spent enjoying my birthday… *ahem* 24 *ahem*!! This year however I found myself hotfooting up to the City of London with my trusted 2nd Lee to shoot the wedding of Maria and Stuart.

Bride & Groom portrait in London
Just leaning on a post in your wedding day suit, as you do…

What a fabulous day it was. We started the day finding Maria and Stuart at the Doubletree Hilton Hotel in Tower Hill getting ready in their respective rooms,of course, Maria had the bigger of the two….what bride wouldn’t!! While Lee was busy with the boys and their struggles to tie ties and attach cufflinks with one hand, I was on hand with Maria, her mother, and her bridesmaid Lauren. Aside from the make-up and hair, and the fabulous something blue (a gorgeous pair of blue Manolo Blahnik stilettos) my favourite capture of the day must have been the look on Maria’s face as she opened her gift from her husband-to-be…a gorgeous diamond bracelet. Of course, this became a new accessory for her bridal outfit!

Mulberry cufflinks, London wedding
These new cufflinks will go on…
London wedding, Manolo's
A little Manolo Blahnik to make you walk tall
Diamond, London wedding
Maria opens her lovely wedding day gift from Stuart

As Stuart and the boys were finishing up their drinks and preparing to head to the venue, Maria was putting the finishing touches to her outfit and hair. It was a real privilege to be there to capture those precious and intimate moments of emotion between mother and daughter, and awe from the flower girl arriving and getting her first look at the beautiful bride.

Doubletree Hilton, Tower Hill London
Stuart and his Groomsmen enjoy one last tipple before the cabs arrive
Mother of the bride, Hilton, Tower Hill, London
Maria and her Mother share a touching moment
London, Doubletree Hilton, London wedding photographer
As Maria greets her page boy and flower girl, the look on her face says it all. Utter awe.

A short taxi drive later and we arrive at Devonshire Terrace in Central London. Being in the centre of the financial district, it is usually closed on weekends, except for weddings, so it was really nice to have an urban oasis in the middle of the city that was relatively tourist free. The building Devonshire Terrace is situated in is impressive. Imagine (with lego, my visual brain says) building the deep, outer walls of a rectangular block 6 storeys high leaving the central space free of building, instead turning it into a usable courtyard space protected from the elements by a glass roof.

The ceremony was fantastic. As the groom, Stuart, nervously waited for his bride, Maria was busy having some photos with her bridal party under the large brick arches that connect the courtyard to the outside world. Then she arrives, a beautiful vision in an ivory bejewelled gown with stunning satin corsetry and a fashionable tulle fishtail skirt.

Devonshire Terrace, London, Wedding photography
Those precious moments before Maria goes to meet her Groom
devonshire Terrace weddings, London, wedding photographer
This shot gives a great look at THE DRESS, but also an feel for the venue, Devonshire Terrace

Maria surprised her new husband by hiring vocalists and musicians who popped up out of the congregation as the ceremony finished, performing ‘All You Need Is Love’, inspired by the film Notting Hill. They also sang the new Mr & Mrs Jennings back down the aisle to a rendition of Stevie Wonder’s ‘Signed, Sealed, Delivered’

I had planned to take Maria and Stuart out into the London streets to capture some urban portraits of them both. Immediately out through the arches provided some fantastic backdrops with which to compose them. They were a great couple to work with who were very happy to be papped on their special day. We went for a series of candid and artistic poses as well as some more traditional shots. One of my favourites was the an edgy edit I did where the (now filthy) underskirts of Maria’s dress were exposed. This appealed to my alternative creative side.

wedding, london, devonshire terrace, photographer, portraits
Those first moments where a drink and a catch up is much needed!
wedding photography London, kiss portrait,
Well, it may not be the famous painting….but pretty close I reckon!!
wedding photography London Devonshire Terrace,
You would never know, 50m on there is a constant stream of traffic and pedestrians. We got lucky!
wedding dress, Manolo Blahnik heels, blue shoes, london wedding photography
Something for the dry cleaners….

While Maria, Stuart and their guests sat down to enjoy their meal Lee and I took a well earned break to devour the amazing tapas style food that was on offer and do what all good photographers do…..talk gear & shots and drink coffee!

The rest of the evening continued in good cheer and celebration. Speeches were delivered, toasts made, champagne drunk and dances danced. First up on the dance floor were the page boys and flower girls who well and truly rocked out before Maria and Stuart took to the floor for their well choreographed first dance.

Bridal party portraits, London wedding photography, Devonshire Terrace Photographer
Well, with kids, what else is there to do?!
Wedding day first dance, children, bridal party, wedding photography London
Before anyone else got to boogie, these little guys rocked!!
wedding day photography, london photographer, central london, devonshire terrace
Mr & Mrs J take to the dance floor

Maria had thoughtfully provided some comedy props which came in incredibly handy, especially when coaxing the shyest of the party to be photographed. This is certainly something I would recommend doing, especially if a studio photo booth isn’t feasible.

wedding photography in London, Devonshire Terrace wedding photography
As a rule, every wedding couple have to have at least one picture of their photographer!!

As the night for us came to an end and all our gear was re-packed and loaded into the car, we began the journey back to the South Coast with our eyes on lookout for a coffee stop! The wedding of Mr & Mrs Jennings was a fabulous day. A lot of fun and a wonderful experience. It was a pleasure to be able to play a part in their day. Congratulations Maria & Stuart, wishing you a lifetime of blessings and happiness.

wedding photography in London, Devonshire Terrace wedding photography
One Last kiss for us to capture under the arches of Devonshire Terrace, London
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!

Weddings, Anniversaries & Marriage

So, here I am on a Saturday night, alone. Tom is at a gig (a local Chichester wedding I believe) and I’ve spent the afternoon chatting to a lovely couple about their impending wedding next year. My brain is full of weddings! But this is great, because as I write, I’m also thinking about marriage.

Bognor Regis wedding day, red wedding dress, black suit, bride and groom
The (Almost Barbados) Bognor Wedding

My wedding anniversary is tomorrow, Tom and I will have been married for 6 years (or 5 years as the card I received yesterday from my scatty parents read!!). We had the most amazing day, surrounded by our nearest and dearest. Our favourite Indian restaurant delivered its finest to our hungry guests and we finished the evening sneaking off to our hotel room early as our guests danced to the awesome beats of Tom’s brother, A.Skillz, DJing at the reception. By morning we were jetting off for a honeymoon to remember in Bali. However, this is just me feeling nostalgic, because wedding day aside, the thing I’m really celebrating is our marriage.

During the relatively short life of our marriage so far we have experienced some amazing highs and some devastating lows.  We’ve grown up and got the family home to renovate, we’ve then created the family to go in it. We are currently in the phase of “relentless exhaustion” that having a two and a half year old and a one year old brings and being self employed in creative industries, our days are never the same. What has remained the same, if not grown, is our commitment to each other. Our decision to walk through the good times, and the bad, hand in hand and side by side, cemented together with love. This is what I will be celebrating tomorrow.

I really love weddings, I feel privileged as a photographer to be able to walk so closely with couples, capturing such an intimate day, as they share such special vows and celebrate these important promises. Their excitement of the preparations and the day excites me, but what I’m most excited for is that they have the pleasure and joy of the marriage to come…..

Wedding day, bognor regis, bride and groom, bognor regis beach
Quietly pretending not to be freezing!!