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I actually think that perfection is over rated! How often are we bombarded with images of “perfect” looking people, how much pressure is there to have the “perfect” wedding, the “perfect” day, etc etc etc? It’s really stressful to live up to the hype if you believe all of this gubbins.

Surely there is a place for mess, chaos, things that are only really, well “good enough” and space for us to freewheel and make mistakes, not be perfect and wallow a little in our fallability?

I read somewhere that children don’t need perfect parents, in fact a perfect parent would be a bad thing as we all need to be shown how to cope with our shortcomings – in fact all children need parents to be is “good enough” – well that’s a relief!!

Couple kissing at a wedding reception

Couple kissing at a wedding reception

So where is all of this going? Essentially to the picture in this post because, technically at least, it really isn’t perfect at all. It’s quite old and I can’t actually remember taking it but, despite it’s shortcomings, it’s been my portfolio for a number of years.

In spirit it sort of reminds me of the famous D Day landing photographs by Robert Capa – the photographer was on the beaches as the soldiers landed and, later on during the processing of the films, the pictures became blurred and hazy. This effect was totally accidental but gives the images a movement, an immediacy and and a raw power that would have been lacking if they were sharp, perfectly composed etc. The impression is of a fleeting moment in the thick of battle.

D Day Landings

D Day Landings

D Day Robert Capa

D Day Robert Capa

Now wedding photography is nowhere near as dangerous as being a war photographer like Robert Capa (he died after being blown up by a land mine whilst on a photographic assignment!!) but there are similarities in the capturing of action and movement and that’s why I love this picture so much. It really does almost look like an accident! On first glance the musicians are a bit wierdly lit, the picture is a bit blurry and the couple on the side look like an afterthought but I love the immediacy of that kiss! The picture looks like an absolute stolen moment, it has such a sense of grabbing a fleeting fraction of time as the couple kiss clearly not thinking that they are being observed at all but the drummer and musician on the right are staring intently at them, hands blurred with the action of playing and in a split second the moment has gone for ever!

It’s also a bit like Robert Doisneau’s “The Kiss” – a fabby image where I love the romance of the moment as the couple are lost in each other whilst the hustle and bustle of the world continues on around them oblivious! Apparently though Doisneau set this shot up – cheat!

The Kiss

The Kiss

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Wedding vows from back of church
First of all let’s get one thing clear – I hate the whole concept of wedding fairs (or even worse wedding fayres). I hate the name, I hate the idea of selling your wares, I hate the whole commercial clamour, the fact that anything with the word “wedding” attached to it is twice as expensive as anything else, the fact that you are lead to believe that you “need” oodles of “stuff” to have a “perfect” day and the fact that most suppliers seem to be there simply for their own gain in order to extract email addresses, phone numbers and hard earned cash out of poor unsuspecting newbie brides and groom! Need I go on? Yuk!!


Conversely, I love meeting people, chatting about photography, showing my photographs, helping people, meeting other lovely suppliers, eating free chocolate samples, eating free cake samples, drinking free coffee etc etc.


Oh dear…….a dilemma!


I currently only do one wedding show a year (more about that in a couple of weeks) and I do that one because it is small, intimate and attended by like minded suppliers. I don’t go trying to sell my services – I go with the intention of having a chat about my work, helping people with their wedding planning where I can and meeting other suppliers.

Enough about me – so – how can the freshly engaged wedding fayre (how I hate the Olde Eynglishe vibe when they add a “y” like that!) virgin ensure that she/he doesn’t get the proverbial wedding-joy stuffing knocked out of them at the first hurdle?


Simple! You need a three point battle plan – preparation, engagement and aftermath.


wedding reception Newnham College grounds


1 Preparation


Go with a plan – Have a quick think about what you want to get from the show. Do you need to find certain suppliers? Are you looking for general ideas or do you need to make specific purchases?


Check the website – once you have an idea of what you are looking for head off the the show’s website and start doing a bit of research – there will probably be links to the supplier’s websites and you will be able to get a good feel for what you might want to look out for, questions you might want to ask and suppliers you want to find and avoid!


Set up a unique wedding email – you will probably be asked to “register” at the door when you arrive. You will be encouraged to part with as much personal information as possible. At most big fairs this info is passed straight onto the suppliers after the fair in a big pretty excel spam sheet – you get the idea! Some of the email follow ups you get might be helpful but you will probably get A LOT – you probably don’t want these clogging up your main inbox – so another wedding email address is a good idea.


Take a willing side kick – This DOESN’T have to be your partner, in fact, unless he is completely chomping at the bit to go possibly choose bridesmaids/best friends/mothers/siblings etc. Now I’m being very sexist about this at the moment but, statistically, wedding shows seem to be mainly haunted by brides and sidekicks – grooms (very very often looking extremely bored/uncomfortable/fish out of water/missing the football), bridesmaids and sisters being the most common combinations. I have seen poor long suffering grooms rolling their eyes, I’ve seen couples arguing and also brides on their own who have inexplicably “lost” their boy along the way!


Go equipped! – Ok, well this basically means comfy shoes, a folder/bag/binbag to dump all the “blurb” you will accumulate, a note book if you are really organised, camera if you are scary and water as it’s thirsty work trying all those free cake samples!


So, you have done all your homework and the exciting day arrives! You brave the traffic, get ripped off for parking, are essentially stripped of all your personal information at the door by the “welcome team” (see previous point about having a “wedding email address”) and you are finally ready for the next phase of the battle plan….

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2 Engagement


Toilets – work out where the toilets are and don’t wait until you are desperate. The queue for the ladies at these places is always leg crossingly HUMUNGOUS for most of the day so you need to plan ahead – especially after all the liquid you will need to take on to wash down the free samples!


Plan a route – at big shows it can pay to plan your route now that you can see the lay of the land. You might employ the Tesco up and down the aisle technique or the more focussed prioritise the important suppliers technique according to your planning (see above).


Say “no” and also “yes” – like a lamb to the slaughter you wander into the fray of battle and are immediately apprehended by wedding suppliers. If you are not interested simply say “no thank you” – it will save us all a lot of time but it’s also nice to have a bit of a chat. As a supplier looking from the other side of the table it’s great to have a bit of a natter and meet new people and most suppliers really don’t bite! Get stuck in, ask questions, try things out, try things on -we really like people that do that!….which brings me to the next most important point…


Try the free samples – I think I’m making too much of a point about this but, with only a nominal effort, it would be very easy consume your daily calorific intake in cake, chocolate and ice cream samples as well as leave feeling a bit champagne squiffy. Lovely!


Take notes – from the suppliers you are really interested in take a few notes and or pics on your phone. When you get home it will all be a bit of a blur (depending on how diligently you work on the point above!) so having some notes to refer to will be really helpful.


Avoid impulse buying – in fact I would say not to actually commit to buying anything at a wedding fair at all. Call me a tight fisted nominal Yorkshireman but I always like time to think about it before opening my wallet. Besides, you probably will want to chat about it with your groom first and things always seem less of a necessity afterwards in the cold light of day.


Make appointments – if you are really interested in a suppliers products and services make an appointment for a later date where you can talk in a bit more detail, take a bit more time and see them more in their natural habitat rather than at the wedding fair.


Go and see the magician – even if you don’t want one at your wedding they will probably be putting on the best free show in the whole building.


Bride and groom during the wedding ceremony

3 Aftermath


Reward Yourself – well done! You did it! Have a relaxing bath or, if you’re a glutton for punishment , put on the wedding channel and snuggle on the sofa with a lovely cup of tea!


Disseminate the info – go through your notes and all of the stuff you have accumulated. You will probably file most of it in the recycling but there will be some gems in there and hopefully some information that will have made the experience worthwhile.


Make appointments – use the info, contact the suppliers, go to see them, buy their stuff! Many of the most popular cake makers, photographers, DJs etc get booked up well in advance so don’t hang around. The sooner you do it the more choice you are likely to have.


I hope that that was helpful! let me know by leaving a comment if you have any other ideas to add!


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Bride gets the OK just before going down the aisle

There are few moments in your life as emotional as the few seconds just before your wedding ceremony begins. It’s usually the culmination of months of planning, not to mention one of the key moments in your love story – it’s both the end of one life and the beginning of another. I’m always slightly choked when I see a father at the end of the aisle proudly waiting to walk his daughter into her wedding ceremony. As a Dad to two girls myself I don’t really buy into the whole “giving away” idea (however mine are currently teenagers and some days I would gladly give them away to anyone who would have them!!) but I can imagine feeling intensely emotion if/when I have to do it myself. Talking of being a jibbering emotional wreck I remember completely crying like a baby at my own wedding when I turned round and saw my wife walking up the aisle so I think it’s hankies all round generally at this part of the day!


I took this picture at the end of the aisle just at the moment Lucy and her Dad started walking into the ceremony – in the moment of tense silence just before the the music started, Lucy turned around and there was this magic moment as her bridesmaid gave her an encouraging OK sign. I had previously been photographing Lucy getting ready and it was obvious that Lucy and her bridesmaid where fantastic friends. She had been doing lovely bridesmaidy type things all morning like pouring champagne, checking everyone was doing what they were supposed to do, helping Lucy get ready and even, I remember at one moment flying out into town to buy an emergency sewing kit to fix a few dress problems. In other words she had been and gone beyond the realms of bridesmaiding duties so to get this lovely gesture of final encouragement and connection was fantastic and really summed things up at this particular moment in time.


“Thank you so much for the wonderful photos. I am so sorry it has taken me so long to reply and let you know we love them!” – Lucy

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