Want to know how I document your wedding day?! Well head on over here then!

bride in pink and groom in black tie hold colourful smoke bombs with wedding party at Bruisyard Best Essex documentary wedding photographer

So, one of the main things prospective couples want to ask me about is what to expect from me on the big day. I think all of us have attended a wedding where the photographer is a bit loud, cringey and bossy, or maybe spends hours lining guests up for photos when they’d rather be having a bevvy and a chat! That’s totally not me! I’ve found a style of photography that fits my personality – I’m a bit of an introvert really but I do love to people watch, and with years of documenting weddings under my belt, I’m now very intuitive when it comes to looking for action and reaction during key parts of a wedding day and how couples interact not only with each other, but family members and friends too. To truly capture micro moments alongside personalities, I have to be able to blend into the background and so my aim is to always stay as unobtrusive as possible. I can almost hear a sigh of relief there – it seems most of you who are attracted to my style of photography are not big on posing or playing up to a camera!

I’m going to walk you through what I do and how I capture each part of a wedding day…



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The importance of morning prep gets overlooked sometimes I think. It’s so great to have images from this part of day as it not only involves your closest friends and members of your family but its also the bit that you two are not together for so when I deliver your photos, you’ll each have an insight into how the day began. This is where a decision about including a second shooter comes in – if you both want your prep covered, you’ll need two of us, otherwise I’ll document whichever of you wants me there! Its a bit of a bonding process too for us photographers – we can work out who’s who pretty quickly, get a feel for the dynamics of your relationships with your closest people, find out any secret surprises anyone has planned (and so can be ready when it happens!) but most importantly, you and your wedding party will begin to get used to one of us being around, doing our thing and we’ll start to blend in with the furniture!

Before the big day, you’ll have filled out my questionnaire and we’ll know the names of your bridesmaids and groomsmen (so we can start putting faces to names!) and I’ll know rough times that you’ll be putting on your dress or opening gifts if you’ve swopped them. That way we can be sure to document these bigger moments, in-between the little ones!

If you’re getting ready at your venue, I’ll also be using this time to capture the decor before your guests start to arrive and, I’ll be popping off with your shoes and bouquet to find some awesome framing or backdrop to capture them too! I usually leave your dress in situ as the majority of venues have carefully considered dress hanging areas but if not, I’ll ask you if I can move it elsewhere. This is a two man job so I’ll enlist a bridesmaid or your mum to give me a hand – it’s precious cargo after all!

Autumn bridal bouquet

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Sometimes you boys are a bit unsure about having your morning prep photographed, so if you’re off to a pub en route to the wedding for a bit of dutch courage, I can arrange to have my second shooter meet you there instead! Its a more relaxed way of easing you in!

I’ve lost count of how many people I’ve heard proclaiming how fast the morning went – even if, during your planning you thought you’d have more than enough time! It’s like weddings have their own time zones and defy the laws of nature! It’ll be done before you know it and I’ll be wishing you all the luck in the world and be popping off to grab pole position to capture you walking down the aisle!


Depending on the logistics, if you’ve added one, my second shooter usually makes it to the ceremony before I do, and she’ll be capturing your guests arriving and all the excitement and nerves! When I get there, I’ll make my way to the front to get the best view of the entrance of the bride. This is sometimes dictated to me, especially in churches, but I’ll have had a chat with you about the rules set for us photographers prior to the big day, so you’d be aware of any constraints put on us and we’ll still be able to get you wonderful images of your ceremony, no matter where we are positioned. My second shooter will be waiting outside for the Bride’s arrival whilst I’m inside enjoying the tension building – every aspect of this once in a lifetime moment will be covered.

Us photographers carry around a lot of equipment and it only takes a quick glance to know which lenses we’ll be needing to use in any given space. Both myself and my second shooter will have two cameras at all times (sometimes I have three!) with lenses of varying focal length so from one spot we can shoot gorgeous wide images of the entire ceremony, alongside close up details shots of ring exchanges, hands being held, guests wiping tears away. Nothing gets missed. The two of you will have your backs to your guests through the majority of your ceremony so you’ll only see how your loved ones are reacting when I’ve delivered your photos. Imagine all those little gems, otherwise unseen, that make up the story of your wedding day!

It might sound weird (actually, it does sound totally weird!) but photographing weddings is a bit like a dance with no music. No matter the differences in each and every wedding, they all follow a basic pattern and so I know when to move at which point during a ceremony, I know which lens I want in my hand when the kiss is coming and I know to watch out for guest reaction immediately afterwards. Once you’ve completed all the official paperwork, I need to be at the furthest end of the aisle to photograph your walk back down, so if your exit route isn’t obvious, I’ll have found out which way you’ll be headed. Meanwhile, my second shooter will have gotten a fab place outside to get the two of you emerging as newlyweds! Many couples opt to do their confetti shot as they walk back down the aisle – planning for this is included in my questionnaire you’ll fill in, and so I’ll be completely prepared for it!


This is the bit that many of you tell me you dread! You’re not comfortable in front of a camera, you’re a bit self conscious and you won’t know how to stand, or where to put your hands or, you’ve never had your photo taken professionally before and you just don’t know what to expect. In almost a decade of photographing weddings, it’s a worry that crops up over and over again, so please, know that you are not alone! I think my style of photography really does attract those who feel this way and, as I can completely empathise, I’ve found a way to make portraits on your wedding day, beautiful yet informal, natural but not ‘posey’ and, dare I say it, actually an enjoyable experience!

I know some of you are SO worried about this bit that you think it may impact negatively on your wedding day, and that’s the last thing anybody wants. For those who are super anxious, you can add a ‘Pre Wedding shoot’ onto your package. These can be at a location of your choice (favourite walk or beach, local park or nature reserve), or I can suggest some great local locations to you. We’ll meet up, have a chat about your wedding plans whilst we walk around and I’ll take lots of lovely portraits of the two of you, exactly as I would on a Wedding day. You get to keep all of your edited images and, you’ll know exactly what to expect when I take you off for portraits on your big day! The feedback I regularly get after a pre wedding shoot, is that it was way easier than expected, and there’s really nothing to it!

So what is it I actually do then during a portrait session?! Lots of my clients book me for my natural, emotive portraiture and this is where being a ‘people watcher’ comes in very handy! It also helps to remember that you will expect to have your photo taken on your wedding day – it’s part of it, so that takes away some of the weirdness! Also, you’ll be high on adrenaline and probably champagne, and, your portrait session will be the first chance the two of you will have to actually catch up and chat about the huge, amazing thing you’ve just done! All of these elements coming together create a very special atmosphere that I fully use to my advantage! I will have already looked around the grounds/or location of your wedding and will have a plan in my head of backdrops and framing for your photos. On the day I’m looking for colour, light and shade, texture, objects to frame you and to shoot through. I’ll even use the weather conditions!

We’ll stop at each location and I’ll just guide you on how to stand and let you chat! The majority of the time, I’ll just snap away but occasionally I may direct you to look at me, or each other but always, always I encourage you to interact with each other – don’t be afraid to move the positions of your hands or arms – sometimes the loveliest, intimate looking photos are created by the simple brush of an arm, or sweeping a lock of hair away from a face! They are human behaviours and thats what make the images come across as so very natural! I do also have a plethora of word association games I can get you to play if you are still feeling those nerves. They work as a bit of a distraction and create spontaneous moments that are pure magic! Don’t forget, if you’ve booked a full days coverage, I’ll also have my second shooter with me – she’ll be getting her own shots of you from a completely different angle or view point, so you’ll be getting two very different shots from each location we stop at!

I try to keep portraits to a maximum of 30 minutes (depending on the location of your wedding) so you can get back to the party asap! Depending on the time of year, I’d also look to do a second, shorter portrait session in the evening, during golden hour (the hour prior to sunset) as evening light in the right conditions can be completely ethereal and is the very best light of the day. Evening portraits tend to look very different from the first set as not only the light will have changed, but you’ll be much more relaxed, full of glorious food and the speeches under your belt too! As before, I’ll have already checked the position of the setting sun and scouted out the best locations to take full advantage of that light that money can’t buy!


Ugh, the dreaded group line ups – the bit that is notorious for eating into your drinks reception! Fear not! That won’t happen if I’m photographing your wedding! As part of my ‘day in detail’ questionnaire, I’ll have already asked you for full details of who you want to include in your group shots. Obviously, this is your day and so if you do want to spend your drinks reception having loads of group shots, we’ll absolutely do that, but from years of experience, my clients are more about enjoying the atmosphere they’ve created and less about lots of structured photos. To keep this part of the day to a minimum, you need to know that each group takes around 5 minutes to set up (picture any wedding you’ve been to – the drinks are flowing, guests are mingling or taking in the surroundings and some serious rounding up needs to be done to find those stragglers!) so best to keep it to a solid 5 different shots. Usually on the list are

  1. Newlyweds with Bridesmaids, Best Man, Ushers. (and all variants of)

  2. Newlyweds with Groom’s immediate family (and all variants of)

  3. Newlyweds with Bride’s immediate family (and all variants of)

  4. Newlyweds with Groom’s close friends

  5. Newlyweds with Bride’s close friends

By ‘variant’s of’, I mean the same group of people but I can very quickly pop individuals in and out.. To speed things up I’ll ask you to nominate one or two people to help round your guests up – usually a Best Man and Bridesmaid as chances are between them, they’ll know who’s who. Also its a pretty good idea for one of them to be loud if you think your guests might get a bit unruly and will need cajoling!! My second shooter will give a list of names to your nominated helpers for the next group, so they’ll be waiting in the wings and ready to go once I’m done with the group I’m photographing. It’s a smooth operation and we know how to get the job done as quickly as possible!

You’ll also be wanting these photos to be gorgeous and natural, full of lovely little interactions and laughs and that’s what you’ll get! I do take several frames of each shot and start with the more formal ones where everyone is looking at the camera (parents and grandparents will be wanting these ones!) but then, I have several tried and tested methods of getting everyone to laugh and focus on each other rather than the camera – sometimes it’ll even be an inside joke that I’ve picked up on during the day but often I find people like to do their own thing and so I’ll just role with it ! Like your portraits, my aim is to get these shots done as enjoyably and quickly as I can so that you can all get back to your wedding! Here’s a few traditional group shots with a little modern twist….!


Once your wedding breakfast is on its way, we’ll make ourselves scarce. Nobody wants to be photographed while they eat – it’s completely off putting and your guests won’t thank us for it! We’ll use this time to take a break too, get a much needed drink and a bite to eat. Also I like to have a look through the shots that we’ve captured so far, change memory cards and batteries, back up to my laptop and then start to have a think about evening portrait locations and dance floor lighting set ups. We won’t be too far away though and I’ll keep checking in to see when champagne is being poured for the start of your speeches.

Like the ceremony, myself and my second shooter will both be using at least two cameras with a variety of focal lengths. I tend to focus on the top table action getting lots of lovely wide shots to include everyone’s reactions simultaneously and also single out individuals for lovely close up’s during particularly emotional parts. Its helpful to know before hand if there are going to be any surprises during this bit, so I’ll have had a quiet word with anyone doing speeches to find this out so we are prepared for it, as this is something I can’t ask you! My assistant will meanwhile, be working the room and capturing all of your lovely guests as things unfold.

I tend to shoot speeches crouched down as I’m very aware that your guests behind me want a good view – not one of the back of my head! -Also if you have a videographer, we’ll have discussed how and where I might position myself as I want them to get the best shots too. This does mean though that if you’ve got tall table decorations or floral displays directly in front of you I might ask if I can move them temporarily – it’s so important I can see your faces! The smaller decor, candles and fairy lights can create wonderful framing though so I’ll be leaving that alone!

Speeches can provide some of the most emotive shots of the day, not just from the two of you, but from everyone in the room!


We love to get shots of your guests on the dance floor and most of the time they cannot wait to join you! So do consider including at least 30 minutes of dance floor coverage after your first dance! There’ll be a burst of crazy dancing for around 20-30 minutes before most people want a pit stop and don’t forget, you’ll also be serving evening food too, so there’ll be a definite ebb and flow of dance floor activities! That means its the best time for us to finish off our coverage with your guests busting out their best moves – so, top tip – if you are planning a play list, get some big dance floor fillers out straight away, songs you know your guests won’t be able to resist!

I’ll have checked out your dance floor area prior to your first dance and will have spoken to your band/DJ to find out their plans – particularly any lighting set up they might be doing. There’s nothing worse than a first dance starting and the lights immediately change, or a smoke machine gets turned on and I’ve not been told about it! We leave nothing to chance! If there’s room to do it safely, I might set up external flash(es) on your dance floor for a little fill light. Usually I put these at the same end as the band/DJ so I’ll also have made sure they’re okay with this. If there’s no room to do it safely, it won’t be happening. Regardless of this, you’ll get a mix of what we call ‘clean’ shots of the dance floor, which are just lit by a flash bounced off of the ceiling and ‘drag’ shots, which are longer exposures used to create lots of awesome movement and colour from whatever lights are being used on the dance floor.

There’s nothing you need to do at this point except let loose and dance! Before we leave, we’ll come and say goodbye and I’ll email you a few day after the wedding to let you know exactly what to expect next. I’ll also release a couple of teaser shots if you’ve agreed to this, just so you can get a little taste of what’s to come!

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