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  • Writer's picturePurple Kite Photography

YOUR WEDDING PHOTOGRAPHY GUIDE - WHAT HAPPENS ON THE DAY

 
Sarah Whyte, owner of Purple Kite Photography, sitting on a bridge in Hertford, Hertfordshire

Hi, I'm Sarah!

I love being able to document the raw emotions and excitement of a wedding day and take pride in delivering stunning images that my couples will cherish for a lifetime.

I create a calm and relaxed atmosphere for my clients, ensuring that they feel at ease and enjoy every moment of their day.

Although I'm based in Hertford, I'm not just a Hertfordshire Wedding Photographer. I can travel all over the UK (and beyond) for your Wedding.


 

Wedding Photography Guide


I've created this Wedding Photography guide to explain how I approach photographing a typical full wedding day. I know that every day is different, so not all parts will be relevant to all couples, but will hopefully give you some useful insights about what you can expect. Please don't worry if your day looks completely different to this - first and foremost I am there to fit in with YOUR wedding plans and make your day as relaxed and enjoyable as possible, and I hope that this guide will give you a sense of my calm, relaxed style of working and give you a feel of how the day will run.


My style is relaxed and natural, so I won't make you pose all day long. I prefer to remain in the background and capture the day candidly as it unfolds, giving you a storybook of the day with all the little moments, emotions and reactions unobtrusively captured.



Wedding preparations...

Often, my day will start with the Bride and her party on the morning of the wedding day. This is a lovely part of the day, with champagne flowing and excitement building as everyone gets ready. I usually aim to arrive around 2 hours before the ceremony depending on where you are getting ready and the journey time to the ceremony venue. I don't start as early as the hair and make up artists, who can often arrive early in the morning - especially if there are lots of ladies in the bridal party requiring their services. Instead I to try and arrive when the finishing touches are being applied to hair and make up and the dress is about to go on.

Lady with long dark hair in a white robe having lipstick applied in a white room with mirror behind
Bridal preparations, Parklands Quendon Hall

I will also use this time to photograph some of the little touches which you have carefully chosen, such as shoes, jewellery, flowers, perfume. It is a good idea to have a copy of your invitations and maybe wedding favours too, so all the work that you put in to those can be captured.


Gold strappy sandals, a gold ring box with engagement ring and a bouquet of flowers all laid out on a white buttoned wedding gown

TOP TIP

The room you are getting ready in will be in the background of all of these photos, so try and think about which room is best to use. Ideally somewhere with a big window to let in lots of light, and a bit of space so people can move around easily. Having a tidy room also makes for much nicer photos, so have a think about what will be in the background of your pictures and have a little tidy up if necessary. I will of course work with any space you have - it's not realistic to imagine that everyone gets ready in a grand hotel room with lots of space, high ceilings and ornate mirrors like we see so often on social media! Your bedroom, living room or any other space will do just fine!


FIRST LOOK

If you're planning to have a 'first look' with Dad or another special person, this may take a little planning. There can often be quite a lot of people in the room if several bridesmaids or parents are getting made up, so there could also be quite a bit of clutter around that comes with a morning of getting ready. A first look photo will always look better in a bright, mess-free room, so please try and tidy up as you go, hiding away discarded clothing and suitcases, empty food packaging and dirty dishes.


A man smiling as he looks at his daughter in her wedding dress holding a bouquet of white flowers
'First look' with Dad, Hanbury Manor

I work alone so I'm not able to be in two places at once, but if your partner is getting ready in the same hotel, or very close by, it may be possible to get a few snaps of prep for them too, depending on timings. Fastening cufflinks or attaching buttonholes are usually good moments to capture.

Dad pinning buttonhole onto groom's blue suit

The ceremony

I will usually leave for the ceremony venue ahead of you so I can capture some shots of the groom (or bride) and their crew, as well as some arriving guests.


I will find a good spot at the front* to get a great view of the bridal party walking down the aisle and to capture all the big moments, emotions and reactions of the ceremony.

*subject to venue - most will let me move around freely to get the best view, though a couple have very strict rules about where I can/can't go, or sometimes there simply isn't the space to move around - some venues, particularly some little churches, are very tight on space at the front and I don't want to be getting in the way of the registrar or Vicar!

Father of the bride walking his daughter down the aisle of a barn and greeting the groom

TOP TIP

I would always advise you to ask your guests NOT to use their phones or cameras during the ceremony. As well as it being a potential distraction for you, I want to capture your guests being in the moment, enjoying watching you tie the knot - not a sea of phones held up in front of faces.

The photos I take are yours to share with your guests if that's what you want to do, so they will be able to get photos from the day, taken on professional equipment and from the best position, rather than through a small gap in the congregation!

Man in blue suit putting a ring on the finger of blonde bride in cream embroidered gown

Confetti

Confetti makes for a fantastic wedding photo! Do check that your venue allows confetti if you plan to use it though.

A mature couple sharing a kiss while being showered with white and pink confetti

I usually try to do the confetti shots shortly after the ceremony, while everyone is still gathered. Though if the weather is bad, we can usually find a suitable time later on - or some venues even allow confetti inside.

I organise guests into two lines as you walk down the middle, being showered with confetti. I also ask guests to save a handful for when you reach the end, so they can gather round you for one last shot. As everyone is throwing at the same time it creates maximum impact!

Indoor confetti, Parklands Quendon Hall
Indoor confetti, Parklands Quendon Hall

TOP TIP

Always check what the rules are around confetti with your venue before you buy masses of the stuff! Most allow biodegradable confetti, some only natural petals, and other venues only allow confetti inside.

Depending on confetti rules, I suggest large, lightweight confetti which will float down more slowly and be easily picked up on camera. Lavender is a lovely natural choice but can be hard to see in the photos as it's so tiny and falls to the floor very quickly.


Venues do not provide confetti for you, so you'll need to bring some along for your guests to use. Please don't assume your guests will remember to bring any with them either!


Lady in a large peach fascinator and cream jacket laughing with friends at a wedding reception

After the ceremony, there is usually some down time of around 2 hours before the wedding breakfast for your guests to enjoy a drink and perhaps some canapes. I will candidly capture you and your guests relaxing and chatting during this time as well as any entertainment you may have provided.

This time is also a great opportunity to capture some organised group shots, if wanted, and some couple portraits.


Group photos

While I am mostly a documentary-style photographer - capturing candid moments as the day unfolds - you are likely to still want a few group shots and couple portraits. Most people choose to book me for my relaxed style, so I aim to get these more formal photos done as quickly and efficiently as possible - having lots of this type of shot alters the dynamic of the day as you'll be able to spend less time with your family and friends.

Wedding party surrounding a fountain in formal gardens at Quendon Hall

If formal group photos are a must for you, I recommend that you don't put too many photos on your list. Up to 10 groups is usually enough. It takes longer than you think for each photo - checking names off a list and gathering up family members who have wandered off. The average time per group photo at larger weddings is around 5 minutes, so if you want 10 photos you can expect this to take up to half an hour! Though if you'd rather have more groups than this then of course I will oblige - as long as time allows. Just be mindful that you and your guests will have little time for a drink and a chat afterwards before you're moved on for the wedding breakfast.

Bride and Groom in group portrait with 6 groomsmen one one side of them and 5 bridesmaids in red dresses on the other

TOP TIP - To save a load of time and stress during group photos, enlist the help of someone who knows who’s who and can help me to round people up. We all have that one friend or family member who loves to organise people and is happy for their voice to be heard – I bet you already know who fits the bill! Having a list of group shots written out in advance is also a great idea, to ensure an important shot doesn’t get missed.


More on group photos at weddings here.


Groom in a pink suit in an embrace with bride wearing long dress and a flower hair garland in a forest clearing

Couple Portraits

Once you've had chance to have a quick drink and chat with your guests, I usually use this time to whisk you both away for around 20-30 minutes for some couple portraits around the grounds. These don't need to be overly posed or formal - I know not everyone likes posing for photos. You can read my blog post full of advice for camera-shy couples here.

Bride with a billowing veil and large bouquet of greens and whites standing next to groom in a pale grey suit in front of a stone church wall

Wedding breakfast and speeches

After taking photos of you entering the room as newlyweds and some shots of the guests and the table settings, I use this time to have a break while you eat your dinner - and I grab a bite to eat too! After all, nobody wants photos of them eating! However, if you're planning any little surprises during dinner, such as singing waiters etc, please do let me know in advance so I can be ready to capture those reactions!

Speeches can either be before or after the meal. It is up to your personal preference and perhaps guidance from the venue so it fits in best with meal timings. Either way, I will unobtrusively capture the speakers, wedding party and all the reactions - the laughter and often a few tears too.

Tearful groom in a blue suit receiving a hug from best man in matching suit in a white marquee with seated bride nearby

TOP TIP -I do not contractually oblige my wedding couples to provide food for me, but I am always very grateful if they choose to do so. Please let me know in advance if a meal is provided, otherwise I can make sure I have food with me.


Cake Cutting, First Dance and Evening Reception

Tall bride in a lace gown and long veil cutting wedding cake with groom in a black suit and grey waistcoat


These elements are all optional and these days anything goes.

If you are having the traditional cake cutting moment, this usually happens shortly after the evening guests arrive, before the evening entertainment gets underway.

It is a good idea to cut the cake on the dance floor at the start of your evening reception, then everyone is already gathered for your first dance (if you choose to have one) which can then happen straight after.

Please let me know if you plan to cut the cake at a different time, so I'm ready for it!





Let me know if you have any evening entertainment planned so I can capture that too.


Men in suits and waistcoats attempting to limbo while other wedding guests enjoy the spectacle

Bride and groom doing a twirl on the dancefloor
Raising the bar - A salsa teacher doing an impressive first dance at That Amazing Place
Saxophonist playing on a dance floor with a bride and groom dancing behind him

FIRST DANCE

This doesn't need to be a choreographed routine, and it can last a matter of seconds before your evening entertainer instructs others to join you on the dance floor, if it's not your thing. If you do have one, however fleeting, it's a nice moment for me to capture before the party really gets started.



Depending on your photography package, I often finish shortly after the first dance, though I usually stay around long enough to capture a few shots of any evening entertainment and people having fun on the dance floor. Though you're very welcome to add on an extra hour or two so I can capture the atmosphere once the party really gets started!


Colourfully dressed wedding guests dancing enthusiastically in a marquee

Bride and groom at sunset by a large broze sculpture

GOLDEN HOUR

Photographers just love golden hour – this is the hour of beautiful soft, warm light which occurs about an hour before sunset. If I notice some gorgeous light or a spectacular sunset I may ask if you can slip away for 10 minutes to make the most of this magic moment for a few extra portraits if you’re game!


Bride and groom standing in a field with their heads touching and the setting sun between them

There are also opportunities for some fun creative portraits after dark if you're up for it!


Bride and groom in a sweeping embrace kissing under an umbrella on a rainy night lit from behind

Don't forget that you can have your day your way, and this is just a guide to help you with the planning. Remember, you can always check any details with your photographer and other suppliers if there is anything you're not sure about.


 

A quick note on editing

I put a lot of thought into selecting the best photos to give you a full memory of the day. I guarantee at least 400 photos from a full 8 hour day, but if lots happens, and there are a lot of guests I often select more. Then I individually process every photo. This is colour correction, straightening and cropping and using subtle editing to focus on the subject of the image. I aim to create photos that will not age as new editing styles becomes popular.

Please note that I do not routinely photoshop images unless specifically requested as an extra afterwards, though I may remove small distractions as appropriate.


 

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