As a Newcastle based wedding photographer, more often than not, our couples will leave the majority of the photograph related decisions to us, their wedding photographers.
For the past eight years, most brides and grooms have put their upmost trust in us to capture their days. After all, there is a reason people book with us.
While people love our images, there is often a lot of work that has gone into what appears in the photographs themselves that you won’t see.
Even though it’s your photographer’s job to capture your day, YOU can help play a huge role in just how good your photographs turn out.
Here are five ways that you can help your wedding photographer to make sure your photographs are just that little bit more personal and special.
1. It’s All In The Little Details
When planning your wedding, it’s very important to think about the essentials of the day such as food and entertainment, but it’s equally important to think about all those lovely little, subtle details that make up the day.
After all, your photographer can only photograph what they see. It’s what’s within the photographs that you can help with.
You may have noticed on our website that we give each of our weddings a name, starting with “The One with…”.
Each day has something a little different about it – something personal. When planning your day, it always makes it more personal if you have little details in the day that are very much about you both and either your interests or personalities.
Here are some examples of some lovely little details you can bring to the day.
So you’ve spent all this money on a beautiful dress and you’d love to have a photograph of your dress hanging up. While you could go with the cheap, plastic hanger that your mum pulled out of the wardrobe, it makes a huge difference to have a custom hanger made.
It’s a nice memento to keep and you can have your name and wedding date written on there which makes it more personal too.
Also, try to get one with a head that turns as it’ll give your photographer more flexibility when hanging it.
Oh, and make sure the hanger is strong. Some dresses are really heavy and the number of times hangers have broke under the weight is enough for us to give ‘robustness’ a mention.
While the ring boxes that come from the jewellers are nice, think about ordering a custom ring box. You can have them engraved with your names on the front and they really don’t cost that much.
Etsy is a great place to pick something up like that and again, it can make a really big difference to your photographs.
This one isn’t just for the ladies. We’re a big fan of shoes here at Chocolate Chip. Generally speaking, you don’t want people staring down at your feet all day, but having a nice, cool pair of shoes just adds a little bit of panache to things.
For the ladies, we’re always a fan of Irregular Choice as they offer some fantastic designs and something a little different.
Shazia’s also a big fan of brides who wear Dr Martens shoes. The simple reason is that they’re cool, but they also make it possible to head off outside into unseen locations to get photographs where heels would otherwise stop you.
For the lads, we love a great set of smart shoes or Dr Martens boots, but we also love the Hand Died Shoe Company. They offer personalised, hand died shoes made to order. How much more personal can you get?
This one is for the lads. Getting hold of a nice tie that compliments a suit really does make all the difference, as does the knot. Most groomsmen we encounter haven’t tied a tie since school, but if we’ve ever had the chance to tie a grooms tie for him, it’s always gone down well.
It’s worth taking the time to learn a nice knot before the day. Even a Windsor or half Windsor looks better than the “school tie knot” that we see so often.
We’re a big fan of the Eldridge knot ourselves, but it takes some practice.
Stand in front of the mirror, Youtube in front of you and spend a bit of time practicing as you won’t get it first time.. but it’s worth it.
It’s looks impressive though and always receives comments. We even had a groomsmen come up to us at a wedding last year just as we were leaving to tell us that his partner loved the knot and couldn’t stop commenting on it. Of course, he hadn’t told her that we tied the tie for him haha.
Now, when it comes to wedding cake, we’ve found that it’s a very personal thing. Some people want a fancy cake, others don’t. Some people don’t care, whereas others do, but even those who do want a cake have different ideas about what they want.
We’ve seen some impressive cakes in our time. So much detail went into those designs but they key thing we’ve found, aside from them tasting amazing, is in the little touches and details to make them more personal to the couple.
If in doubt, you could do what this lovely couple did and have eleven cakes. Just make sure you’ve got enough guests to help you cut them.
Table Plan & Table Decorations
If your wedding has a theme, this is often represented in the breakfast room. We’ve seen some impressive details that have gone into table plans and decorations. Themes have varied from sports, to travel, to movies and pop culture.
There’s so much more you can do rather than just having a plain white sheet of paper with names printed on.
Signing Boards / Signing Books
For those of you unfamiliar, a signing board is a board that you get all of your guests to fill in throughout the day. Traditionally it would have a photograph of the couple in the middle and then be mounted in a frame to be hung on the wall.
Nowadays, many people go with a guest book which is passed around throughout the day. Instead of a generic book, you can still have one that’s more personalised.
We’ve also had some other couples really think outside the box. We had one wedding last year where the guests signed guitars, which was themed around the couple’s love of music. To be fair, their whole wedding was festival themed so it fit in well, but there’s plenty you can do.
2. Tidy up, you mucky pups.
So number two on the list is nice and simple. Regardless of whether you’re getting ready at the venue, a hotel, b&b or at home, before your photographer arrives, have a tidy up.
We don’t mind and from our point of view, bags and things lying around are part of the day. We see it as “that’s the way it was” but there’s a fine balance that we want to strike in the photographs. It’s fine to have some things lying around as long as it’s tidy overall.
We understand though that others would like their photos tidy. We appreciate things get messy on the morning, particularly for brides, but there have been plenty of times over the years when I’ve heard people discrediting other photographs, saying “well they left all the bags in the background of the shots”.
Here are a couple of examples of how it should be. There are a few bits around, but it’s tidy overall.
Remember, it’s not a photographer’s job to tidy up and you’re certainly not paying them to tidy up either. I’d imagine you’d rather they were taking photographs, so have a quick whip round or keep on top of it if you can. That’s what bridesmaids are for!
3. Trust your photographer.
Number three… trust. Initially, you book a wedding photographer because:
a) You love their photographs.
b) You like them as a person.
c) Both of the above.
We’ve always said to our couples that if they love the photographs we’ve captured of other people’s weddings, then imagine how they’ll feel about their own.
Yes, it’s absolutely important for a photographer to know if a couple wants anything specific.
Some couples don’t have any specifics and are very much like, “Hey, crack on”.
Some just have a few specifics they want.
If you do have something you’d like, please let the photographer know but don’t stop them from doing what they do best.
We’ve done weddings in the past where bridesmaids have followed us around with shot lists telling us what to shoot and where to shoot it. While the couple loved their photographs, it restricted us on what we might have been able to do.
When it comes to this topic, we’ve always said to our couples:
“We can photograph what you tell us to and that way we will fulfil your expectations. However, if you give us the freedom we need, there’s a good chance we’ll end up exceeding your expectations.”
Give your photographer the freedom they need. You won’t regret it.
4. Cut down on the group shots
You know the photographs where multiple people line up, forcing out fake smiles and then being mixed around into different combinations, all the while trying to look happy whilst wishing they were at the bar diving face deep into the canapés?
Yes, group photographs AKA family photographs. The bane of a wedding guest’s life.
We don’t mind them personally, but we approach them in a very specific way that avoids all of that “standing around” and makes the process enjoyable.
From our experience, the message from guests is clear…
“I’ll give you some time, but don’t take forever.”
So for couples getting married, our advice is this…
Keep your group photograph list to a minimum.
That way, you’ll keep everyone happy. I know it’s your day, but trust us, you’ll be sick of your life too if that list is too long.
Spend the day enjoying yourself with your friends and family, not standing around forcing out fake smiles for hours on end.
You only have one wedding day and you’ve invited all these people so make the most of it.
5. Feed your photographer
Last but not least, number five. When it comes to feeding your photographer, it’s a bit of a grey area.
Do you have to? Should you? Is that normal?
When it comes to feeding photographers, from our experience, there is typically a correlation between a couple’s desire to feed us and how much they value us and what we’re bringing to the day.
You tend to find there are three types of couple when it comes to feeding their photographers:
1. Couples who consciously choose not to feed.
Sometimes the couple are on a tight budget and can’t stretch to pay for another meal. Totally understandable.
Sometimes the couple feel as though they’ve already paid the photographer to be there and therefore they shouldn’t have to pay any more for them.
Sometimes they just don’t want to feed their photographer.
2. Couples who forget/didn’t even think about it.
Some couples simply forget. They’ve got so much to organise and because they don’t include photographers in their guest numbers, it often just skips their minds.
Often in these cases, it’s takes someone to bring it to their attention, usually in the final meeting where the venue will prompt them to make a decision.
3. Couples who actively want to feed their photographers.
That they truly value what their photographer is bringing to their day.
They understand that their photographer is there all day and needs to eat.
They want them to be part of the day as much as possible. Often, we are even sat with guests at the table to truly make us feel part of everything.
They just feel it’s a nice thing to do and that they would want the same.
This isn’t a question of should or shouldn’t, it’s more about how much you value your photographer.
If your photographer feels more valued, we guarantee they’ll go the extra mile for you.
So that’s it!
That’s our top five tips to help you get the best from your photographs.
We’ve photographed weddings for a long time and while we know you’re looking to us for guidance, these are the things you can do to help out.
After all, this is your day and I’m sure I speak for every wedding photographer out there when I say that I’m sure we all want you to be happy.
Thanks for reading,
Chris and Shazia