Sarah & Johnny Engagement at Friars Meadow

I really admire couples who embrace the elements and Sarah and Johnny certainly did that!  We had hoped for a warm spring evening, but instead it was absolutely freezing, but there they were coats off just saying how it was good practice for their January wedding.  I can honestly say I’m very excited about their wedding at GosfieldHall next year.  Gosfield Hall for its size and impressive structure has the loveliest intimate atmosphere.  In January it will feel so cosy with open fires and welcoming rooms full of original features, and with Sarah’s keen eye for design know that she will make the very best of this perfect setting for a winter wedding.

Why I Don’t Use Professional Models for Styled Wedding Shoots

Why I don’t use professional models for wedding styled shoots…to be honest I love working with people, especially women, who don’t feel comfortable in front of the camera.  There is nothing more rewarding than making a women who is inexperienced in front of the camera look like she has just walked into a vogue shoot, or a wedding styled shoot that you see on a high end wedding blog.  I’m not going to lie, its not always easy, and finding solutions that will help capture the results I want takes time and perseverance, but the end results are hugely rewarding for all involved.

Another reason is practice.  Although there is much to gain from using professional models…they know there light, how to work their muscles (even facial expressions), how to move and pose.  As a photographer who is working with non professionals on a weekly basis I find working with people who aren’t confident in front of the camera, don’t know how to find light, have no idea how to move, hugely beneficial to improving my skill set, especially for a wedding day where time is limited and couples can feel very awkward.  Knowing simple ways to keep things moving and fluid is much easier for couples and brides who are camera shy.  I have found the more you are involved in a pose the more awkward it becomes and will often look stiff and unnatural – something I am always trying to avoid.

**Would you like to feel like you are gracing the pages of a magazine or high end wedding blog? Launching soon – Styled Post Wedding Shoots & Portrait Sessions **

All Photography:  Kathryn Hopkins Photography  / Florals:  Rebecca Avery Flowers  /  Make up Artist:  Victoria Taylor

Wedding Timeline – leaving nothing to chance

Getting your wedding timeline right is crucial for helping the day run smoothly and on time.  Nothing should be left to chance, and plucking times out of the sky may leave you frustrated and disappointed.  Considering every suppliers timeline and tying them together will ensure you get the best out of all of them.

When I’m helping couples put their timeline together I generally use this rough formula as a guide.  Sunset and ceremony times are key, as ultimately they govern how much light and how much time you have for the rest of the day.  Working backwards through the day will help determine a ceremony time optimum for your day.

Summer Wedding Timeline Guide:

  • Sunset (on a sunny day it’s a great idea to have another 10 minutes with your photographer to capture those lovely sunset shoots)
  • Evening Guests Arrive
  • Couple Portraits (1 hour max)
  • Wedding Breakfast & Speeches (2.5 hours)
  • Reception Drinks (2 hours)
  • Travel time from your ceremony location to reception location
  • Time at the ceremony location if required
  • Length of ceremony
  • = Ceremony time!

Winter Wedding Timeline Guide:

  • Evening Guests Arrive
  • Wedding Breakfast & Speeches (2.5 hours)
  • Sunset
  • Couple Portraits (1 hour max)
  • Reception Drinks (2 hours)
  • Travel time from your ceremony location to reception location
  • Time at the ceremony location if required
  • Length of ceremony
  • = Ceremony time!

Getting Ready Guide:

So often the getting ready timeline is based on when the bridal car will collect the bridesmaids and bride, but ideally it should be worked out based on when your photographer /videographer have to leave for the ceremony location.  This time can vary depending on who you have booked so its best to contact them for an accurate time.  By providing your make up artist and hair stylist the time the photographer/videographer has to leave it ensures everyone is working to the same end point and will avoid anyone having to rush because the time is bought forward.

Photographer:  Kathryn Hopkins Photography  /  Florals:  The Flower Bird  /  Make up Artist (4th image):  Zoe Cornwell 

Will I Regret Not Booking a Professional Wedding Photographer?

Like most brides, when I was planning my wedding I was looking for ways to cut costs without affecting my wedding vision too much.  On reflection it’s hard to believe some of the sacrifices I was considering to make in place of things that weren’t so important.  Our bride brains get side tracked by all the pretty details and we can forget what a wedding is actually about.  At the time it felt easy to target wedding photography in my wedding budget, possibly because the value wasn’t a visual component on the actual wedding day.   Having some keen amateur photographers in my family, all with good DSLR cameras my bride brain took over and thought “hey how difficult can it be… I do it for a living and it comes naturally to me so I’m sure it will for them too!”  I still find it hard to admit I thought this, knowing how much training and practice it takes to be a wedding photographer.

Having sent my invitations to guests with a special note saying I wasn’t hiring a professional wedding photographer and that I would be providing discs for them to take away, along with stamped addressed envelopes for easy return to me.  At this point I felt pretty confident, convincing myself that everything would be fine and the photographs received back would be beautiful and magical, and  just as pretty as the ones I deliver to couples.

About a month later I started to wonder if I’d made the right decision.  The worry of not having all my hard work captured beautifully, and the potential for not having natural couple portraits started to become overwhelming.  The realisation of what could be started to kick in and the doubts where keeping me awake at night:

  • What if every single photograph is blurry
  • I so want a romanic soft look throughout my photographs – I know this can only be achieved with certain lens, unlikely to be owned by family and friends
  • I may not like one photograph, and what if I feel ugly in every photograph
  • Will all the details I spent so long putting together be captured, and captured well

In the end the worry was just too much, and just had to find the money to book a professional photographer.

So, did I make the right decision to book a professional photographer?  I didn’t tell guests that I’d changed my mind as I still wanted to receive all their photographs taken on the day, and also thought it interesting to see if I’d made the right decision.  Out of eighty guests how many discs do you think I received back?  A massive number of three.  Would I have been happy just with my guest photographs?  Definitely not.  Did I make the right decision to book a professional photographer?  An outstanding yes!  If all I had from my day were the guest photographs I would have regrets for the rest of my life.  With two years in the planning, and marrying the love of my life, I would have been heartbroken without beautiful photographs to look back on.

Only you can decide what is right for you, but I suggest asking yourself the few questions before you decide not to book a professional wedding photographer:

  • Are photographs beautiful composed and edited important to me?
  • What are my expectations for my wedding photographs?  What would make me feel disappointed?  What would make me feel excited?
  • What are my reasons for not hiring a wedding photographer? Is it because I don’t mind what my photographs look like, or is it wedding budget related?
  • How will I feel if my wedding photographs are blurry, dark, or there just isn’t one I like?
  • How will I feel in later years about my wedding photographs? Is it something I think I might regret?

There are a few tips I can give that will help you make your final decision on whether a friend or family member is right for photographing your wedding:

  • Look at their Facebook, Instagram, and Flickr accounts.  What are their photographs like and do you like what you see?
  • Appoint somebody to take your photographs as its best not to reply on every guest taking photographs and sending them to you after the wedding.  Also appointing one or two people gives you more control.
  • Do a venue visit with your appointed person and get them to take photos in all lighting conditions.  Ask them to share the photographs of the visit with you.  It is best to go on an open day when the venue is dressed for a wedding, that way you can see how they will tackle the table decor etc.
  • Have an engagement shoot with them as this will give you an idea of what your wedding couple portraits will look like.
  • Discuss with them what is important about your wedding day and how they will approach the key moments.

And finally, if your budget really doesn’t stretch to a professional photographer could you perhaps:

  • Book a post wedding shoot with a photographer you love but can’t afford for your wedding day. It gives you a chance to wear your dress again and spend quality time with your new husband
  • You’ll hate this option…but wait another year to be married so you have more time to save for everything you’d love to have
  • Re-evaluate your budget, spend money on the things most important to you on your wedding, and cut the budget on things less important

Talking as a bride-once-was, I would always recommend booking a professional wedding photographer.  For us it was the most important and wonderful day of our lives and we get so much enjoyment from looking at our wedding album.  I’m so glad I came to my senses and saw the pitfalls of not hiring a professional wedding photographer, as the warm feeling I have about my wedding would have been a very sorry story full of regrets if I hadn’t.

All Photography:  Kathryn Hopkins Photography  /  Photograph 1:  Bride:  Laura of Tiny Twist, Florals:  Fallen Flower Design, Gown:  Bridal Reloved Maldon  /  Photograph 2:  Becky & Adrian’s Wedding – Florals:  Rebecca Avery Flowers, Venue:  Great Lodge  /  Photograph 3:  Caroline & Jack’s Engagement at Dedham  /  Photograph 4:  Bride:  Emily Bannister, Florals:  Rebecca Avery Flowers, Gown:  Kathryn Hopkins Photography