Tips From The Top
During my career as a planner I have been blessed to have worked with some of the best wedding photographers in the business. Last year I was elated to work with the fabulous and super talented Dan and Ann from Dan Johnson photography.
During a conversation last weekend I asked Dan to write a piece for the blog on the subject of wedding photography during your wedding ceremony and the importance of pre planning.
For more on this and related subjects, see Dans blog under the category “Photography during the ceremony”.
What pictures you get from your wedding ceremony will depend on what you want, what the celebrant will allow, the venue, and your photographer.
The “what you want” bit’s the easiest, and is all down to communication with your photographer to make sure that they understand your wishes and that you don’t have unrealistic expectations.
What the celebrant will allow is basically a lottery. Where church weddings are concerned, we regularly meet everything from “no photography in my church thank you” to “get whatever pictures you want, just don’t stand between me and the couple”. Now, you’re probably thinking “well I’ll just make sure we sort this out with the priest beforehand” and that might actually work – but be aware of two possible consequences if you do.
One is that given a choice between entering into a rational discussion about how best to ensure that you can get the pictures you want without the ceremony being turned into a circus or just saying something like “I think photography during the ceremony’s inappropriate” and moving rapidly on, most Church of England priests will take the easy option.
The other is to beware of the phrase “Oh photography’s not a problem”. While this can mean what you think, it can also mean that photography isn’t a problem because in practice it isn’t allowed or might as well not be.
Where civil ceremonies are concerned, all you have to remember is that on the day, the officiating registrar’s word is law. Regional policy on photography during civil ceremonies varies from “it’s your day, so whatever you want” (with London Boroughs and Kent leading the way) through to “no photography full stop” (parts of Gloucestershire and until last month all of Wiltshire), but it’s still down to the individual registrar.
They have complete discretion as to what happens and what doesn’t during your ceremony. If he or she says “no pictures”, you can try arguing the point but frankly I wouldn’t rate your chances.
Assuming that photography is allowed during the ceremony, the venue itself has a big influence. Basically your photographer needs enough light and at least one suitable place from which to get the shots without being intrusive. That’s easy enough in a big bright church on a fine summer afternoon, but not so easy in a tiny village church at 3pm in mid-December, to say nothing of hotel function rooms lit only by down lighters.
Whether church or civil, you’ll be signing the registers at some point and pictures of that is a separate issue. Indeed it’s a separate lottery. What the law says is that the signing of the registers can be photographed but the entries in them must not, and common reasons why you shouldn’t have pictures of the actual event include “Data Protection Act”, “Official Secrets Act” and “Because I say so”.
In practice, it’ll be down to your photographer and the registrant as to whether you get pictures during the actual signing or are expected to sit there pretending to sign a blank piece of paper with a pen that has no ink in it. If the latter doesn’t appeal, one alternative is to opt for just a nice shot of you with your witnesses instead.
The last major variable is your photographer. We all have different ways of working and of tackling ceremony photography, so if pictures during are important to you, it definitely pays to find yourself a wedding photographer who’s good at it and can get the pictures for you without becoming the centre of attention.
Finally, one thing that can lose you pictures as you proceed up the aisle is if you set off on the wrong side, as a result of which your photographer’s in the wrong place. Just remember that for a normal English wedding, church or civil, the bride goes up the aisle on the right and leaves on the left of her new husband!