When two London Creatives like Annala and Bruno meet and fall in love, you just know that their wedding is going be something pretty special and I cannot wait. If their engagement shoot was anything to go by it'll be so full of creativity and will push my style of artistic wedding photography that I so love.
Even for the most confident, coolest and most photogenic of couples, the idea of having your wedding photos taken can be a little daunting, so we arranged a relaxed little pre wedding photo shoot to settle the nerves and give Annala and Bruno a little time together amidst their wedding planning, to just enjoy being close and to capture a few memories of their engagement before their wedding day.
Annala and Bruno’s story is full of love. A long distance relationship that stood the test of time and patience, their journey began in London and will be celebrated when they are married this summer at their no doubt incredible, destination wedding in Italy, overlooking a valley, surrounded by lemon groves, flowers and family. It was in contrast to their romantic, Italian country wedding, to celebrate their love of London, the city where they live and their passion for art and architecture that drew us to this impressive location for their engagement shoot.
So, it was on a bright April morning when the air was still crisp and the cherry blossom was blooming, that I met Annala and Bruno for their pre wedding shoot to wander round East London’s iconic Barbican centre. It did not disappoint and this gorgeous couple totally relaxed into it and made it look easy.
A Grade II listed building, the Barbican Centre is one of London’s best examples of brutalist architecture. The Barbican Centre is also a bit of a hidden gem. It offers a quiet refuge from the bustle of East London outside and it felt like we had it totally to ourselves. An oasis of calm, symmetry and a maze of secret spaces.
The sunlight poured in creating the most amazing shafts of shadow and light and we weaved between concrete pillars and stumbled upon blue pools and green gardens that contrasted perfectly against the grey starkness of the building.
There are so many beautiful spots within the Barbican and I felt like we had only scratched the surface. I will be back to soak it all up and explore again soon, as it has quickly become one of my favourite places in East London, but until then, stay tuned for this beautiful couple's wedding photos later this summer and excuse me while I start dreaming of Italy...
It’s not every day you meet a professional bridesmaid! When I stumbled across Grace’s website Always The Bridesmaid, I was instantly intrigued and just had to meet her to find out more...
I can honestly say that at a wedding, bridesmaids can often be the backbone. There's always a bridesmaid at the end of any veil or straightening out dress. A bridesmaid to keep an eye on any little ones from eating the wedding cake before it's been cut, a bridesmaid to hand you a glass of something alcoholic just when you feel like you need it most and bridesmaids to be there as your supporting team. Getting paid to be a bridesmaid, it sounds like a dream job right? After meeting Grace, I realised that there’s a lot more to it than helping a bride to bustle her dress and holding her bouquet.
With wedding planning becoming more and more individually tailored, I’ve always been intrigued when I stumble upon anything new or quirky within the wedding industry and had a million questions, do you go for dress fittings, do you walk down the aisle? How do you deal with 'bridezillas'? Grace’s calm and poised response to my onslaught of questions thrown at her (with the enthusiasm of my four year old daughter, when she met an “Actual unicorn" at a recent birthday party) proves that she is definitely the right personality fit for the job! This lady knows how to deal with any situation under pressure and her calming nature and the twinkle in her eye gives me the impression that Grace could handle any wedding day emergency, big or small.
Grace explained that her past experience working as a PA and in event planning for the rich, famous and even royalty, includes many a last minute, minor mishap. Examples include replacing an A-lister's lost earring back with one of her own just before a VIP red carpet appearance and last minute, hop on a train from London to hand-deliver name place cards that had been mistakenly delivered to Devon by a courier! All taken in her stride. They may seem like small things but after having been a bride myself and only narrowly avoiding the bridezilla melt down, I know how these little situations can easily escalate and be very stressful on your wedding day.
“ So, what exactly is a professional bridesmaid?" I asked.
"The best way to describe it..." explained Grace, "Is a wedding PA, one that fits seamlessly into your wedding day. I can either help with the wedding preparations before hand, be there on your actual wedding day, or both". Grace can be hired to help with areas of the 'wedmin' that you just don’t have time or the enthusiasm to do, such as book flights for relatives, plan the dreaded seating plan or organise your hen do. On your wedding day, She can be there to help with a wardrobe malfunction or even just a bit of extra stage management when your ushers have disappeared to the bar and your wedding photographer needs a little help with organising who’s who for your family photographs.
"But isn’t that job for the actual bridesmaids?" I asked, Grace explained, "Absolutely, but if for instance, you’re organising a destination wedding in a different country or if your wedding party are coming from far and wide and you just want them to be able to relax and enjoy themselves without being given jobs to do, then that’s where I come in"
Each wedding is so individual and that’s the beauty of it, there’s never a dull day and every wedding has it’s challenges and rewards. Something as a wedding photographer that I can relate to.
"What made you choose this career?"
"After being a guest at several weddings where I saw that there was a need for an extra pair of hands, I just knew there was a gap in the market. I want to be a discreet addition to a wedding to ensure that the bride has me to rely on. I’ll be the one one to run back to the hotel when your best man has left your wedding rings behind or your wedding cake has been delivered to the wrong venue!" Yes, that has happened!
One last question, "Do you pose in the photos or walk down the aisle too?"
Grace simply replied "I am there for whatever the bride needs”.
So if your ‘wedmin' is getting a bit overwhelming or you would like an extra pair of hands (with an emergency kit handy) during your wedding day then Grace is your girl, watch this space wedding world, something tells me this girl is going to be in demand!
Click here to sign up for Grace's free wedding planning checklist, as well as be kept in the loop about all things bridesmaid.
Photography and words by: Jennifer West Photography
So you’re in the midst planning your wedding. You’ve dedicated Saturday mornings for 'wedmin’. Your parter has started asking “Can we please talk about something else?" Which is a good sign that you’ve got some big things sorted already.
You’ve booked your dream venue and your wedding photographer is next on your list…
Having a professional wedding photographer is important to you. You’ve already got a Pinterest board dedicated to images that you love and have been screen grabbing wedding photos from Instagram for months. You know what you like and what you don't and will be meeting with a potential photographer before hand. You will know straight away if you connect with your wedding photographer, which is absolutely essential and it will give you the opportunity to not only go over all the fun details but more importantly, ask us any burning questions but here’s the thing, you probably won’t...
You’ll ask us important stuff like if we are insured and what happens if it rains on your wedding day but sometimes it can be a bit embarrassing to ask those questions about wedding photography that you really want to know. So I’m here today, to get those awkward questions out in the open and answer totally honestly, to the best of my knowledge from over 15 years experience in the business.
So what are those juicy questions? I hear you ask, let’s get right to it...
1. Why is wedding photography so expensive?
It can seem that when you’re planning a wedding that everything you’re booking can come with a few extra Os added to the price tag and wedding photography is no exception. Why? It's just for one day right?
The truth is, that it’s never just one day, not for any of your wedding suppliers.
The preparation that your wedding photographer will put in for your wedding will be extensive. It can take months, sometimes years of preparation. Client meetings, venue visits, liasing with suppliers, mood boarding, lighting and technical research, planning and testing, hire, maintenence and purchasing of equipment, courses and education to better our skills are all examples of things that a photographer is doing in preparation to give you the best service they can and that's before your wedding day has even happened.
Your actual wedding day is usually celebrated on just one day but after your wedding, it can translate into a whole month's worth of work for your wedding photographer in terms of editing, retouching and design work. If you break it down to an hourly basis then you will see on average most wedding photographers are making a living but working really hard for it. It is definitely, in my opinion one of the best and most rewarding jobs in the world but it’s no surprise that we are all pretty broken at the end of the wedding season and have an industry term ''wedding hangover “ for the level of mental and physical exhaustion we feel after a wedding.
2. Why do wedding photographer’s prices vary so much?
In my experience, photographer’s prices vary depending on the level of experience, services offered, time, physical products that they provide and the suppliers they use. This can include many things that we use behind the scenes to run our business that you would never have even thought about such as website and design, marketing, album suppliers, even our packaging and courier service. I would rather use my chosen wedding album company that charges me a premium and know that my client’s wedding album will last them a lifetime, than charge less and supply a lower quality version that my clients will feel disappointed with after a couple of years, when it starts fading or looking a bit tatty. A photographer's actual costs will be reflected in their prices and therefore, if you pick a luxury priced photography service, you should expect a top notch experience and products in return. This is not to suggest that a budget priced photographer will do a sub standard job, just that the high costs of certain things are naturally reflected in our price lists.
3. On your website, you say you ''Only shoot a limited number per year'', is this just a sales trick to get me to book ?
Of course we want you to book us, any wedding photographer would be telling porkies if they said they didn't want you to feel a sense of urgency to get in touch but I would say honestly the limited capacity is absolutely true.
Contrary to our over enthusiasm and misguided self belief that an extra energy bar and constant stream of caffeine will get us through 50 weddings each year without fading, we quickly come to the realisation that we are not machines! Most wedding photographers are small businesses and operate as sole traders or in very small teams. Unless you have the luxury of working with a large team where you can rotate the photographers, it generally means that to be able to put our absolute all into a wedding, we can only shoot a limited number every year. You can spot the physical evidence of a busy wedding season when you hear photographers complaining about suffering ‘claw hand’ having burn marks round their necks from camera straps and a dent/spot on their noses where they have been resting the camera! Funny but true. We call it our war wounds! Seriously though, we want to be energetic, wholly involved and enthusiastic so we set a realistic limit to be able to do so.
4. I generally don’t like having my photo taken, how can you guarantee I won’t hate myself in my wedding photos?
It’s not that you don’t look good in front of the camera, it’s just that you don’t feel comfortable in front of the camera.
Yes, of course everyone has better angles and flattering lighting and a creative shot can help to make anyone look lovely but the trick here is to really try and get to know your wedding photographer so that you build trust and feel more comfortable.
Building great relationships with my clients is THE priority for me. That’s why its so important that we click when we first meet.
By the time your wedding comes around, you should have met or spoken with your photographer a few times and spent time planning together, bounced lots if ideas around and be feeling confident.
I would highly encourage couples to have a engagement, couple or family shoot with your photographer before your wedding as it gives you a taster of how it will feel and should eliminate all the unnecessary fear. If you come away from your shoot feeling like it was a horrible experience and hate the photos, then choose another photographer! Your photographer should make you look and more importantly feel good.
5. I’m spending a small fortune on my wedding day and don't want to spend hours away from my guests or my party. How will we fit in a time for photos and prevent my fear of missing out?
It’s really important that you plan and dedicate some specific time for your wedding portraits and group shots. The thing that will make you feel like your missing out is the feeling of lack of control if you don’t have a plan. The unknown timings will make you feel anxious and stop you from enjoying what might be the only time of your wedding day that you get to spend together without your guests.
In my experience, I would suggest you have at least an hour and half dedicated specifically to photography, 45 mins for group shots if you want them and 45mins for some couple portraits. It’s also really important to have some of your wedding team on hand to help organise your guests for group shots. It makes the process so much quicker, smoother and more enjoyable for everyone. Of course, your wedding photographer should be open to requests and suggestions and grab opportune moments for lots of lovely natural shots. I work with my clients to ensure that we all feel confident that we can balance the timings for photos so I can capture what I need for you and you feel like you haven’t missed out on any of the fun.
If you don’t want anything posed at all, then this is absolutely fine, do not be afraid to say. It’s all about communication and it is so important to us that you have the maximum amount of fun on your wedding day. It’s your day, no one else's so enjoy it!
6. How do I know if you’re the right photographer for me?
Of course, check out out our reviews and testimonials and see what past clients are saying but the most important thing is finding that connection. Connection is key. I get 90% of my clients though recommendations, I love recommendations as it generally means that they are a similar minded people to a couple I already know, have photographed and connected really well with, so that’s a great start. Your wedding photography will be an ongoing partnership of creativity and communication and it is essential that you feel comfortable and that you click with your photographer.
I always recommend meeting your photographer in person, and together as a couple or if that’s not possible, at least have a long conversation with them. You’ll just know. From the best client meetings, I come away feeling like I want them to be my new friends and quite often, just that happens!
So that’s it lovely people. The top six awkward questions that you are too shy to ask your wedding photographer, all asked and answered as honestly as I can. I hope you have found this helpful. Feel free to share this with anyone that’s getting married as they may just find this useful and if you have any other burning questions that I may have missed, please feel free to send them my way, Jen x
Kirsty and Luke’s relaxed, outdoor, tipi festival wedding was one of those weekends that just stays with you as two of the best days of the summer. I still have the wrist band and a persistent bit of glitter that just won’t budge off the sole of my silver wedding shoes!
Their dream was to have a wedding that had a laid back mix of tradition, personality and most of all fun. If you're looking for inspiration for your very own wedding music festival, take a look. A perfect partnership of creatives, a photographer and a drummer, Kirsty and Luke's free spirited attitude meant that their wedding represented their passion for music, encapsulated those laid back summer vibes and set the tone for one hell of a party across two of the hottest days of the year.
The pair were married in a ceremony that was sensitive and heartfelt. Held at St Mary’s church, a pretty little Welsh chapel in the village of Usk where the bride and groom were both born. Some of the couple's much loved family members were both married and buried there so it was the obvious choice for them. After the ceremony, the couple took a quiet, private walk through the church grounds and laid a sunflower on the graves of their loved ones. It was beautiful and poignant.
The newlyweds then hopped into a vintage VW camper van to their festival site, where a gorgeous, tipi reception was set up on the green fields of Usk cricket ground, where their guests awaited them armed with a handful of rainbow petal confetti.
The details that Kirtsy and Luke included were so personal, a festival wristband and a jelly shot upon entrance, welsh cake favours, home grown flowers in rainbow coloured watering cans, hand painted signs and a mobile 'hip shaker bar' were among the many little details that made their day so special.
The sunny afternoon was a laid back party, lounging on hay bales and dancing in the cool shade of the of the bell tents where the guests rocked out to some incredible musicians and were treated to festival food from local suppliers and donuts from a donut wall. Even their local ice cream van turned up!
In true festival form the bands lit up the stage and packed the dance floor. The groom, Luke took centre stage to bash out a few sets on the drums and everyone had a weekend they will never forget. Their guests spent the whole weekend laughing, dancing, drinking cider barefoot on the grass, falling out off hammocks and laughing again
Kirsty and Luke, thank you. Your wedding festival totally rocked and I am so happy that I was part of it . Now, where do I sign up for next years?
Photography: Jennifer West Photography
Videography: Trust Productions
Tipi: Timber & Canvas
Bride's dress: Perfection Bridal, Cardiff
Bridemaid's dresses: Mix Bridal
Flowers: Emily Santos & Annala Walker
Wedding flags: Event Flag Hire
Ice cream van: Mel’s Whippy
Catering: Clever Chefs
Make up: Hannah Hazel
Hair Stylist: Burlesque Hair Co, Caerleon
Cake toppers: Jenevieve’s Creations
Over the years I have photographed weddings during every season and every type of weather, sometimes, all in one day! Hopefully, these tips, from a wedding photographer's point view will help you plan for a totally amazing day and take the stress out of worrying if it will rain or be a bit chilly because a winter wedding can be like no other!
1. Embrace the season...
Sure, a summer wedding in the UK can be ‘’easier'’ the longer hours of daylight and the lesser chance of rain can make the warmer months the obvious seasons of choice but people sometimes forget how incredible the autumn and winter light can be. Whether you have that lovely low winter light or dramatic stormy skies, winter can make for a truly beautiful wedding. A rainy wedding day can be incredibly romantic, it forces people to get closer, to huddle together. Talk to your suppliers, your florist, make up artist etc are all experts and will have loads of creative ideas of how to make the most of your wedding season.
2. Have an extra pair of shoes (for both of you)...
These don’t have to be seen or photographed but can be an absolute life saver if you need to leg it in the rain or if you’re heading outdoors for a shoot and the ground underneath is a bit muddy. Pack a spare pair of flats (or wellies) you can slip on when needed and keep those wedding shoes that you spent hours deliberating over, clean and dry.
3. Wrap up...
Wear something warm for the outdoor shots. Embrace the opportunity to get gorgeous and wear a glamorous faux fur, a tailored trench or a or wrap a big snuggly blanket round you both for some romantic shots, it also prevents against your lips going blue!! Don't forget about your bridal party too, the last thing you want is one of them putting their orange anorak on to stay warm. I’ve got nothing against orange anoraks if that’s your thing but have a plan to keep you all cosy and in keeping with your style.
4. Take a good umbrella...
It’s easy to forget to think about what umbrella you take, when you have so much to think about but a large white umbrella can work to not only shelter you from rain if needed but reflect a lot of light back into your faces for a photo shoot. A lot of wedding venues will have spare umbrellas on site so it’s worth asking before hand just in case, although many have golfing umbrellas with big logos on the side so it may be worth investing in a few white or clear umbrellas just for the day. You can generally pick them up pretty cheaply and then maybe sell them on after your wedding.
5. Prepare your people...
It doesn’t have to be regimented but it’s always handy to prepare and get the help you need from your wedding party on the day, whether its assigning someone to be the umbrella holder while you have a few couple shots taken, keeping the train on your dress out of the mud or or help in directing your guests from A to B, things always run smoother when you have people who know how they can help you .
6. Talk to your venue and take your photographer...
All good wedding venues will be fully prepared for weddings during the cooler seasons and will have lots of ideas of how to make the most of your wedding day even if you don't go outdoors.
It’s always a great idea to arrange a venue visit with your photographer to get your plan in place for the photography. I always love to have a little look around before with my clients, it gives us the opportunity to get excited about the location and scout out little hidden corners that may not be initially obvious for a gorgeous photo opportunity.
7. Hire a photographer who is confident with rainy wedding days and creative in low light...
Like all good wedding professionals, it is really important to chat with you photographer about what happens if it’s really rainy. They should be able to not only put your mind at rest at the thought of a rainy wedding but make you feel excited about the possibilities that a cooler season wedding can provide. A good photographer is not only one that takes great photos when the light is perfect but one that takes great photos when it’s not and makes the best of every situation.
8. Be Unique...
Most importantly, if you have your heart set on an outdoor wedding in mid winter, do it! It’s your wedding and it’s the way you make it your own that you will truly remember. One of my all time favourite wedding memories was an outdoor ceremony that absolutely hammered it down while the couple were saying their vows, it was one of the funnest days and everyone huddled together and howled with laughter as we all got very wet. It remains one of the happiest memories I have of a wedding to date and one that none of their guests will ever forget!