The day is here!

How I go about things

“Plans are worthless, but planning is everything.” – Dwight D. Eisenhower

It is important for me to note first, that before your wedding day arrives, we will have already dealt with a number of very important items. Which I have summarised here first.

1) Between booking and a month before your wedding day, I would ask you to fill in a questionnaire, with all the details I will need for the day, This can be found in the private online portal you will receive when you book with me. This does not need to be completed until just before our 4 week chat and is literally 15min job but its an extremely important piece of the photography day.

2) About 4 weeks before your wedding, we will have a call or a zoom meeting or maybe a face to face in the studio… and go through the plan of the day. This is when we iron out all the little wrinkles and we can work out all the, timings and ideas you may have for the day. 

3) I will give you a call or message you a few days before just to check all is ok and nothing has changed from our conversations.

I also speak with your venue or wedding coordinator long before the day arrives giving them all my details, company number, public liability insurance and build a rapport with them. Usually I have done this when you first book. It is important they understand our plans in relation to photography as it is that I understand their plans, rules and regulations. If I haven’t shot at a venue before… 9 times out of 10 if it’s possible, I find a way to detour there from another appointment in the preceding months and meet the venue coordinator and look around the venue. I also do significant online research on images, where things are, even where the sunlight will be at certain times of the day (yes, I have an app that can do this for me :). I will also have worked out routes and backup routes if we are hitting multiple venues and where parking can be found. Nothing is left to chance.

For example, I recently I shot at the Sandon Manor weding venue, Hertfordshire. Now this is a very new venue, only in its 2nd season… so no more than 30/40 photographers will have shot there at the time of writing. Since my couple had booked a 2nd photographer and my colleague only lives a short distance from there, we both had a catchup on site about various weddings we were working together on and used the opportunity to look around at the venue and to speak with the lovely Holly (venue wedding coordinator) to understand what we could and couldn’t do. 

Once that is complete…. Your day really starts here!

Here I talk a little bit about how I go about the morning or the pre ceremony shenanigans with you. To give you a feel for how a busy Hertfordshire wedding photographer does his thing and how we can ensure that all is in hand and things are going according to the plan. You remember… that one we did before… that has now gone out the window. Just kidding 😂

Formula for success: rise early, work hard, strike oil.  J. Paul Getty

First things first… I always arrive uber early to any wedding, sometimes unnaturally early :). Might be my military background here but I would rather sit and have a coffee somewhere for an hour and recheck my gear, than be panicking in a traffic jam en route with no time to spare… or worse. Touch wood I have never been late. Sometimes if it’s a long distance to travel  (over 1.5hrs driving is my red line)… I will stay locally somewhere the night before at my expense. Just as you would never forgive me being late I wouldn’t forgive myself for poor preparation in relation to your big day! 

After I arrive, I usually check in with you if your there and if not, I find the venue wedding coordinater or your planner and let them know I am around, before heading off to check out the location (I will have done this previous but things do change!). 

I will then trot off and I get all the location shots I need. It’s really important to do this each and every time, regardless of if you have shot at the venue before as the weather will be different, the flowers and trees and so on. We want to capture that moment on your big day not someone else’s!

Then I  head off to the ceremony room and any other areas I want to check over. Sometimes the areas are not ready… but thats fine I always go back in a spare moment to get the details. 

Next its onto the dresses. The brides dress, I try to find somewhere nice to place it depending on accessories that need photographing also, like a veil and shoes. I always do find somewhere to do this and am very careful. The image on the right shows the dresses hanging on a four poster bed at Hedsor House, Buckinghamshire where I have shot on a number of occasions.

If its a dress with a long train for example, I may not move it as we don’t need any accidents there and they are harder to capture hanging up to do it justice…. and in all honesty it will look much better on you in your pictures through the day. But If I can get some nice images and closeups of the dress details… I will..

At this point we are looking for accessories and nice jewellery you may be wearing that day. The things we like to call the ‘details’… As long as timings on the day are not an issue, I always like to get this done if I can.

Maybe some closeups of carefully placed rings, an engagement ring, a bouquet, they all have their place in your gallery. This lovely image below was captured at The Mill Barns venue, Shropshire where they had a lovey stone floor throughout part of it. Yes I can get about a bit.

The next order of the day will be your makeup and hair being done with your bridal party. you may have pictures you want of some custom PJ’s like in the shot below from a wedding at Bedford Swan Hotel and Spa, Bedfordshire, drinking your bubbly.  

I always like to wait a little while, till hair and makeup are nearly complete, as these images look much better for all these shots. It’s also at this time that I will be heading over to your partner if in the same venue and getting the same sort of ‘getting ready’ shots.

Bedford Swan Hotel and Spa. Embankment, Bedford.

If the groom is getting ready at a different venue,  this is not usually possible to do and this is where we really recommend a 2nd photographer.

Their job will be to get those images and then with the groom head to the ceremony venue to greet the guests and photograph any details there, whilst I would be working with the bridal party and getting the bridal portraits and walking with you to the ceremony room or going in the car with you to the church or venue if different.

I think it’s just as important for the couple to have both sides of the story included in their images… but of course there is a cost to this. Today over a third of my weddings book a 2nd photographer.

Although a 2nd photographer may be taking those images, I only work closely with trusted colleagues who shoot in a similar style to myself using similar camera setups. At the end of the wedding, I take their SD camera cards and edit the images in my style for you. 

This gets you more images, as well as from different angles in the ceremony (think back of the dress here and differnt first kiss angles for example) and images of the guests getting up to mischief or enjoying the activities you have planned.

If it is a big day with a lot going on, whilst I wouldn’t want a 2nd photographer if we didn’t need one, there are those times when I would use my experiance and recommend this to you… if I feel it would be of benefit. Rest assured I will not do this just for the sake of having one.

Once all this is complete we work on the bridal portraits, with  shots with the bridal party. Then we make our way onwards to where the ceremony is to be held. We may also have a father of the bride first look at this point.

 I usually leave a few minutes before you to get to the church or ceremony room or walk with your bridal party, just depending on how close or far we are and wait for you to arrive and walk down the aisle.  

If it’s a drive, I may of already worked out the details and be in the car with you on the way to the church, sitting in the front, where I can get some great shots of you with whomever is giving you away. All this before I dash into the church, while your bridal party deal with the last minute details and I can capture your partner standing there nervously waiting for you to walk down the aisle.

Now… this routine here that I have explained, this is just one routine of many. Some couples may have both of them be walking down the aisle together… or have a totally different plan altogether. Recently when I shot an Indian wedding, the groom arrived with a procession and drums and music… but one way or the other we will be prepared for whatever comes..

What is important is that we have gone through all this in some detail before the day and we know what is to happen and when it is to happen.

There is also an ideal opportunity, when I do a complimentary couples shoot, to talk through some ideas and get to know each other.

It’s all about communication and teamwork and it is my job to ensure we get all that straight before the day.

If you would like to discuss more with me about your upcoming wedding then click the link here and send me your details, or email me at weddings@denhelderstudio.com and we can arrange to have a chat. I look forward working on that plan with you… Exciting times ahead!

A black-and-white photo of a bride and her bridesmaids walking outside a brick building. The bride leads the way holding flowers, while two bridesmaids follow with bouquets and umbrellas, and one adjusts the bride's dress train. They are on a stone path beside a garden.