Tips, tricks and advice

After shooting over 1,000 weddings during the past 14 years we feel in a good position to offer some advice from a photographers viewpoint regarding planning a wedding.

Choosing a Wedding Photographer

Some tips and advice regarding selecting your wedding photographer.

1) Make sure he is a professional and not just someone who earns a bit of extra cash at the weekend. This is not always easy to determine as producing a half-decent website and cobbling together a few good pictures isn’t difficult. Ask to see ALL the pictures taken at his last wedding and not just the best in his portfolio and ask to speak to couples he has photographed recently, If he has an online blog, so much the better as you will see how many weddings he is shooting.

2) Don’t spend too little. It is tempting in todays tough economic times to get the cheapest photographer. It costs over £4000 to buy the equipment needed to photograph a wedding and the camera needs to be replaced each year. If a photographer is charging less than £500 he is probably using old/cheap equipment or is not a full time professional wedding photographer.

3) Make sure your photographer is a wedding photographer! It may sound silly to say this, but in reality a lot of wedding photographers do studio/portrait work during the week and only do the occasional wedding at the weekend. Being a good wedding photography isn’t just about being good with the camera, but also being good with people. Here at Northwest Photography we photograph over 100 weddings per year, mostly from recommendations.

4) Get the copyright to your pictures – if not you will have to go back to the photographer every time you want a print. (eg if 20 people at your wedding want 2 A4 pictures and each costs £15 then you will get a bill from the photographer for £600!. If you have the copyright to your pictures and your images on DVD you can take the disc to Boots/Asda/Jessops etc and get each print for just 72p!)

5) Make sure your wedding photographer is insured.

6) Be careful about qualifications and membership of societies, Did you know most of the letters after a photographers name can be purchased without any proof of ability. If you dont believe me, try it. Go to most wedding photography society sites and all you have to do is send a cheque to get letters after your name. You could do it! (The most respected professional organisations are The SWPP and The Royal Photographic Society.) The same is true when it comes to ‘photography awards’. Many organisations give out ‘wedding photographer of the year’ awards to anyone who submits a picture (along with a £50 judging fee of course!).

7) And finally …… There are many styles of wedding photography and many differing photographers, make sure you pick one that suits want you want. At Northwest Photography we concentrate on the more relaxed, informal and artistic wedding pictures. If you want an ‘old fashioned’ style of album with your guests stood in a line facing forwards saying ‘cheese’, we are probably not the photographers for you. If however you want something a little more ‘modern’ then we probably are!

Choosing a venue

The first thing to take into account when choosing a wedding location is that there may be two parts of your wedding to organise – the wedding ceremony and the wedding reception. As regards the ceremony, a church wedding is still the favourite choice for many couples, and most have a particular church in mind. In this case, the reception must be planned around the ceremony location. Factors such as ease of transport from service to reception will be important when planning your church wedding. If, on the other hand, you’re thinking about a civil wedding, you have the option of choosing a venue that will host both your wedding ceremony and your wedding reception. If this is what you are hoping for, you will need to choose a venue that is licensed for marriage ceremonies. This may come with a higher price tag than non-licensed wedding venues, but has the benefit of minimising the amount of travelling involved for you and your wedding guests.

How many guests? The type of wedding you have will depend partly on how big it will be, so here are some things to think about before approaching wedding venues: Venue capacity: It may sound obvious but many venues will not be able to magic up extra space from nowhere if you add 20 extra guests at the last minute. You should have a good idea of numbers before you start looking at venues. Seated or standing wedding reception? A formal meal will obviously require more space than a stand-up buffet, so a venue whose seated capacity is 100 might well be able to accommodate 200 for a canapé reception. Which do you want? Entertainment facilities: Bands and other entertainment can take up a large amount of space, as can a dance floor, so decide when and where you want the entertainment to take place, and check with the venue that this can be done in the space available.

Which wedding venue? Any number of buildings can make a perfect wedding reception venue, but here are some of the most popular options: Historic wedding reception venue. Castles, country houses and stately homes are among the locations many dream of for their big day. If your budget can stretch to it, this offers a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to enjoy the use of a stunning building. Personally we highly recommend Peckforton Castle, Nr Tarporley, Cheshire. Capesthorne Hall, Nr Wilmslow, Cheshire, Thornton Manor, The Wirral and The Hillbark Hotel, The Wirral (where you also get use of a stunning Rolls Royce Phantom!) Hotel wedding reception. There are so many different types of hotel that there’s likely to be something for everyone, from traditional to ultra-modern. Having accommodation on the spot is, of course, a big plus. We highly recommend Shrigley Hall, Bollington, Cheshire, Cranage Hall, Cheshire, Thornton Hall Hotel, The Wirral, Mere Court Hotel, Knutsford, Cheshire, Sandhole Oak Wedding Barm Nr Congleton, Cheshire and Mottram Hall Hotel, Cheshire. Of course there are many more that will provide you with a perfect day and we have experience of photographing in over 300 different venues. Marquee wedding reception. If you have access to spacious gardens or other outdoor space, a marquee could be worth considering. Many people are surprised at how pricey it can be to hire a marquee for their wedding, but the plus side is that you can take control of wedding catering and could save a considerable amount by providing your own alcohol. Sports or social club wedding reception. Different types of club premises can be perfect for a wedding reception. Do plenty of research and you could find one that’s in a stunning location, too. For example, some sailing or rowing clubs have picturesque waterside views, and can often be hired at a reasonable price, certainly compared to other popular wedding venues. Restaurant or pub wedding reception. Food and drink are among the main ingredients for a successful wedding reception, so where better to head than to a lovely restaurant or pub? Bear in mind that you’re more likely to find a good match if your wedding party is smaller, and if you’re lucky you might even be able to escape the heavy costs that are often quoted as soon as you mention the ‘w’ word! Wedding venue checklist Before signing on the dotted line, check the detail and small print.

Wedding fees. Exaggerated costs, such as a hefty corkage fee or drinks prices, might mean compromising on other aspects of the wedding. Vote with your feet if you feel it’s not worth it. Wedding venue staff. Are the staff experienced and professional? Flexibility is also important. Are they willing to adapt to your needs? This will be a major factor in how smoothly your day runs. Ask how many people will be serving the food. If you have 100 guests and there are only 3 waitresses it will take about 30 minutes to serve each course! Wedding venue facilities. Is the venue suitable for guests with a disability, and can it provide appropriate seating for the elderly and/or young children? Wedding transport. Is there enough parking for guests who drive, and decent transport links for those who don’t?

Wedding venue restrictions. Does the venue impose limitations that could negatively affect your plans? Some stipulate no loud music after a certain time, others don’t like confetti or candles, and certain (usually historic) venues forbid high-heeled shoes for fear of their flooring being damaged. Wedding decoration. Are table linen, flowers, place cards and other decorations included in the quoted price, or will you have to provide your own? Wedding extras. Check the availability of extras such as a cake stand and cake knife. Many wedding venues will lend you these, but having to hire them separately adds to your hassle and your wedding expenses.

The day itself Just two major issues we have come across that wedding couples don’t think about. If you are getting married in a church and then going on to a hotel for your reception, check how many people will be staying at the hotel for the night. If there are 60 people doing so, they will all want to check in when they arrive at the hotel – exactly at the time you will want photographs taking. Checking in so many people at the same time usually takes over an hour so make sure you have left enough time between arriving at the hotel and sitting down to eat for all your photographs to be taken. (or ask your guests not to check-in and disappear to their room until after the pictures have been shot) Receiving lines. Many couples would like to greet all the guests as they enter the restaurant prior to eating so they have a ‘receiving line’ where they say a few words to all the guests. In this line are usually bride, groom and close family. It allows you to make sure you have spoken with everyone before you eat – but there is a problem. If you have 100 guests and you spend just 30 seconds with each one, the receiving line will take 50 minutes!! The poor person that went first will be sat at the table for nearly an hour with no drink or food waiting for everyone to enter the room. My advice… if there are more than 50 guests DONT have a receiving line!

We hope the above information helps – we will be adding to this page regularly. If you have any questions or would like some advice please do not hesitate to contact us.