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I don’t think that many couples start planning their wedding with a particular idea of what type of photography they would like or what they want from their photographer. Few people have had their picture taken professionally (maybe the last time was a school photograph) and it can be a bit tricky to know where to start.


“Google it”

My first port of call when I want to know anything is to “Google it” and I ‘m reasonably adept at filtering the results until I find the information I want. But Googling the phrase “wedding photographer” followed by your location, which is probably the most logical starting point, will probably bring up hundreds of results of photographers whose websites are full of great wedding pictures, are clearly good at what they do and are all clamouring for a slice of your hard earned wedding budget.


“Man, I’m choiced out!”

I’m going to digress for a moment………my local supermarket (who shall remain nameless) is reasonably sized and for each product there is a pretty wide choice of possibilities. And, due to my 21st Century conditioning, I can cope with choosing from ten or so varieties of, let’s say, sausages!

If I drive 15 minutes down the road to the nameless supermarket’s mega store to buy my sausages it becomes, well for me at least, a bit of a trial. The first issue for me is negotiating the massive car park with it’s illogical one way systems and irritating mini roundabouts – once in the place actually finding the sausage aisle requires a feat of orienteering and trekking that any boy scout would be proud of and then, when I finally find the sausages, there are hundreds of them! Choice paralysis!

You know what I mean…….it’s the same with digital TV………I love having all of that choice on offer but sometimes, in my house, we spend almost as long deciding what on earth we’re going to watch as we do actually watching it! …………. “When I were a boy there were BBC1 BBC2 ITV and Channel 4 wasn’t even invented……and we were ‘appy…….sittin’ infont o’ black n white tv in’t clogs……..”


Where on earth to start?

So, what I’m saying in a roundabout way is that, in order to avoid “choice paralysis” I think it’s often a really good starting point to have a think about what you might want from your photography before launching head on into Google and research. This thinking time will often hinge around how happy you are having your photograph taken, how much time you want to spend having family group photographs taken and how much importance and time you might want to place on the more formal bride and groom photographs. Also, how important is it to you to have all of the details of the venue and the dress and the place settings photographed on the day?


Styles and posh words

If you can get a feel for the answers to a few of the questions above then you can start to fit a few of the answers around a few of the popular photography styles out there. Let’s start with a few extremes…….. (that’s a lot of fews!)

Infographic about wedding styles


Some photographers still work in a very classic or traditional style where fairly much everything is posed and set up. They will be happy to take plenty of family group shots, often are happy to be with you for part of the day only and will also work with you to get plenty of classically posed bride and groom portraits. This style is a bit out of fashion at the moment but a good experienced photographer will provide beautifully lit and posed pictures with a minimum of fuss and time being spent and will probably offer great value for money. You will probably spend only a designated set time on the photography and you also don’t need to spend the day being followed around by a reportage photographer sniper! – more on that below.



If looking like a super model, having all of your beautifully created and chosen details photographed and also having something that is bang on trend is important to you then this style could be the way to go. A lot of the photographers on the popular wedding blogs photograph in this way and you will see a lot of vintage style effects and terribly “on trend darling” images photographed in this way. The advantages are that you will hopefully get something that looks super cool and you will also get a great artistic interpretation of the style and flavour of your day. A lot of photographers emphasise the quirky details and get brides and grooms doing all sorts of hilarious walking in corn field and staring wistfully into the distance type shots. Great stuff, if that is what you like, and it can be an excellent choice with the right photographer.

The downside is that your pictures might look a bit dated in a few years time (you know how 1980’s New Romantic synths sound…?! they were soooo cool back then). You might not get a photographer who is hugely interested in doing a lot of family group photographs and you might get a huge number of (probably beautiful) shots of tables and flowers and rings and cars ……you get the idea. Maybe you might miss out a bit on the people shots and the interactions and laughing and fun……..just a thought.



At it’s extreme the photographer will not interfere with the day at all or set up or pose any pictures. They will go for a storytelling approach and photograph all of the events and details as they unfold. Some will only do a very limited number of family group photographs and then some simple and quick bride and groom photographs, the photographs of the flowers and cake and tables etc will be very much record shots rather than being “artistic” allowing the photographer the freedom of time to look for shots of people interacting.

The advantage of this approach is that you will get a unique set of pictures that really feature the people and characters, the interactions and the emotions of the day – rather than the emphasis being on the venue and the decorations. You also will have to do a minimum of “faffing about” posing and you will forget that a good documentary photographer is even there as the day goes on. Your pictures will be produced in a classic and timeless style, won’t date stylistically and should still look good in years to come

On the down side you might feel like you are being followed around all day by a reportage ninja – not pleasant – and it’s possible that it all might look a bit too real! A good photographer will always look for the best in the wedding be it the best light, best angles and best moments – you don’t want a documentary photographer to always point and shoot what is literally there! You might feel that there aren’t enough family photographs there in this style and the bride and groom pictures could be minimal.

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Horses for Courses

The above examples are a bit extreme and, in reality, most wedding photographers will mix and match a bit of all of the above – we’re a versatile lot! Many will photograph in a nice blend of styles whilst others will lean more or less towards one of the styles above. Many won’t label their style and that’s fine but hopefully the above will have given you a bit of a starting point so that you know what you are looking for when you start on your research.

It’s a bit like me in the sausage scenario – if I have at least thought about whether I want veggie sausages, pork sausages, organic sausages or whatever before hand it makes it less likely that I will freak out in the chilled foods aisle! Hopefully, with bit of pre planning and consideration about your ideas and preferences finding the ideal photographer for you won’t be too hard.

Once you have created your photographer shortlist I have a really handy free guide called “Ten Things to ask Your Wedding Photographer Apart From Price” – drop me a line and I will be happy to email it out to you. It’s actually part of a bigger series called “Stress Free Wedding Planning for Beginners” – it’s a completely free download too!


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wedding getting ready - swinton park n yorks


Don’t you just hate it when you have researched something really carefully, looked at all of the pros and cons, checked and double checked the budget and then, right when it’s too late, you’re hit with an unexpected extra or add on that you just hadn’t budgeted for? All of a sudden your happy shopper mood has a bitter after taste and you are left feeling slightly swindled!


Budgeting for a wedding is a great case in point. Few prospective brides and grooms have had any previous wedding planning experience and it seems to be a relatively common complaint that wedding suppliers and venues are extremely good at piling on the surprise extras once you have signed on the dotted line. I’m not suggesting that people are being purposely mislead but it can pay to go in with your eyes open and check exactly what you are getting for your money.


So, here are 15 costs that you probably might not have thought of that will hopefully help to make your budgeting a little easier!


1. Postage. Yes, crazy as it may sound but if you are sending out any number of snail mail invitations the costs will quickly mount up. How much is even a second class stamp now? Multiply that by the number of guests you are going to invite and it soon adds up.


2. Corkage. Possibly, to the uninitiated, one of the most ridiculous, pompous, pointless and meaninglessly petty extra charges around. I suppose if you think about it rationally the venues have to make a profit somehow but make sure that you are absolutely clear about where you stand on this before you book.


3. Extra time. What happens if (inevitably) everything runs late? Does the photographer charge an extra hourly rate? What about the musicians? Do you have transport that will charge extra for waiting around? Will the venue charge extra for waiting around for the guests who won’t leave at locking up time?


4. VAT. Obvious, but I have heard of some couples that have been shocked and surprised by this one. It makes a big difference and you need to be crystal clear before you commit to anything as to whether VAT is included or not.


5. Church bells. You might be paying for the church service but it probably doesn’t include the bell ringers to ring you out of church.


Bridal suite at Gosford Hall Essex

Bridal suite at Gosford Hall Essex

6. Choir. My first paid gig as a musician was a s a choir boy at a wedding. Choirs are rarely free, neither is the organist so don’t assume that they are included.


7. Dress alterations. Depending on where you find your dress alterations may, or indeed may not be included. Not a nice surprise if you need a couple of fittings.


8. Lighting. I know of one venue who charge for extra fairy lights. Just don’t get me started! Check out what lighting is included at your venue, possibly visit in the evening when you can make a proper assessment.


9. Cleaning up/damage. Red wine stains on carpets, curtains that have been stepped on and guests that have broken chairs. We’re not talking about smashing up hotel rooms here but all of the above have happened at weddings I have been to and all have had to be paid for. Some venues are also extremely sniffy about how much cleaning and tidying they will do after a wedding and will try to charge for additional cleaning costs.


10. Tips. Apparently there is some expectation that the waiting staff/bar staff should be tipped at a wedding. Again, clarify the position from the outset so that you know what to expect.


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11. Feeding the team. I actually think that it’s quiet rude for suppliers to expect to be fed at a wedding. I know a number of bands that insist on arriving early and being fed before they will perform and a number of photographers who expect food on the day. Personally I think you have enough to worry about without feeding me on the day and I generally bring my own food. It’s always lovely to be offered food but I certainly don’t insist upon it. Have a think about this and plan accordingly.


12. Taxis. You might well have planned a wedding car to transport you during the day but what happens at the end of the night? How will you get to your hotel and how much might it cost?


13. Cake stand hire. You wouldn’t believe it would you but you might have to pay to hire a cake stand!


14. Shipping. Or, if you are English, postage and packing. You might well have saved a fortune sourcing all of your details on Ebay but those P and P costs have a habit of being forgotten and mounting up.


15. Thank you cards. Again factor in the cost of postage as well! It’s lovely to thank people for coming to the day and also for wedding presents but, potentially costs mount up for a posted card to each person!


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Moody wedding guests

“Some say…that he only stayed on Top Gear for so long because the BBC were oblivious to his bombast, the programme was a major cash cow and that his wages, accrued for simply doing power slides in fast cars, were enough to feed a third world city for months…… All we know is that he’s called……..Jeremy Clarkson”


………….and, despite his obvious shortcomings and terrible fashion sense he does sometimes cut through the baloney with a blunt sledgehammer of northern common sense and a smattering of straight talking clarity.


So……if….heaven help us…….Jeremy Clarkson starts a new, post Top Gear, career as a wedding planner (haha, I really think he should!) what might he make of the wedding industry and what pearls of advice and wisdom might he give??


1) If it’s got the word “wedding” in front of it, it’s going to cost twice as much. Crazy but true and this plays to the whole sickly idea of everything “wedding” having to be perfect and special and of the highest quality. It’s all rubbish of course and you don’t need “wedding” anything to get married – you just need love, a witness and someone to marry you – all the rest of it is piled on by the commercial pressure to do the big “wedding” thing. You can save a fortune by looking for ordinary items that aren’t “wedding” items, are second hand or going down the DIY route, not having a flashy car or an expensive cake etc etc etc.


The cost/quality of your wedding day has no direct relevance to the quality of your marriage – they are two completely separate things.


2) Do it your way, don’t do it for any one else, don’t listen to popular opinion/fashion and make the day your own. Jeremy is excellent at this and couldn’t care less what anyone else thinks.

Nosey wedding guest

3) Be very careful about which of “the boys” you choose to be the best man, or indeed, as is now often the case, best men. Jeremy would, of course, go for mates would provide the best banter and could be relied on to provide the groom with the most memorable send off. However be careful! Do you really want to be posted naked on a train to Edinburgh after becoming uncontrollably inebriated on your stag do? You also need someone with some sense of responsibility to get you to the wedding on time and to deliver a speech that is acceptable to all age groups. You don’t want all of your dirty laundry aired in front of grandma! Jeremy’s mates are great for practical jokes or “pranking” (as my teenage daughter calls it) but might not be the best choice on the day!


4) Passion and enthusiasm. Whatever you think of our friend JC you can’t fault him in one department – he has a drooling, school boy, unadulterated and crazy mad passion and enthusiasm. Yes, you might think that it’s a bit odd that it’s directed at cars but, in it’s single minded purity, it’s something of wonder and beauty. This spills over into everything he does on the despicable TG programme and is beautifully mirrored in the production values of the programme – visually it is often stunning, the super car tests are deliciously filmed – it’s like gorging on the the tenderest steak tempered with the finest chocolate melting over your tongue as your taste buds dance in an orgy of delirious stimulation. Add to this the deliberately inflamed sound track of roaring V whatsit, super horse power ultra torque super charge engines and it’s just unexplainably, guiltily, over poweringly and seductively pleasurable! I drive a 1964 Morris Minor for goodness sake and recycle – what’s going on here!?


Transfer this enthusiasm and passion to your wedding and it’s going to be awesome!


Nurture it over the course of your marriage and you’re going to be invincable!


5) Finally, for goodness sake, whatever you do, make sure that you serve hot food, preferably steak and chips and definitely NOT a cold meat platter as, after a hard day at a wedding, any reasonable wedding guest would be well within their rights to hurl verbal abuse at you and punch you in the face if you can’t even be bothered to get a hot meal together for them.


…and on that bombshell….it’s goodbye!


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