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rachel’s wedding diary: some admin, and a dress hunt!

July 17th, 2018 | Rachel Parry

Rach & andy

Ten months – well actually less than ten months to go now until our big day! Our featured brides aren’t lying when they say the run up to the wedding flies by, and in a twist of roles, it is these knowledgeable now-married ladies that I’ve found myself turning to for guidance along this tricky planning path. For despite being immersed in weddings day in day out, and constantly absorbing the expert advice passed on by the amazing suppliers that we work with, I’ve come to realise that nothing quite prepares you for planning your own – and those armed with the most solid advice are the couples that have been there, done that, and bear the wedding bands to prove it.

I therefore really enjoyed putting together this recent post, which lists top tips from our real brides over the past few months, and I’m now trying to put their wise words into practise – “enjoy the organising”, “don’t stress”, “split the workload”, “be decisive”, “break things down into bite-size chunks”. And so, I found myself scheduling a ‘wedding meeting’ with groom-to-be Andy. Sounds rather bridezilla-esque I know, but as we both lead busy lifestyles (or more to the point, our evenings are currently taken up with Love Island #teamdanijack) I felt like it was necessary to ensure we gave the plans some quality time and got a few things ticked off the ever-growing to do list.

It started out all angelic with a notebook and glass of Buck’s Fizz in our sunny garden, though ended with us sat at a computer screen indoors with our heads in our hands. But I’m pleased to report that progress was made!

The invites are almost ready to hit ‘print’ on thanks to my super talented best friend Nic – a graphic designer/art director with a fabulous eye for detail and styling. Another top tip often mentioned by our featured brides is to call on the skills of family and friends, and I couldn’t agree more. As well as potentially saving you a little money, it’s also a lovely way to involve someone you care about in your plans and to bounce ideas off too. I can’t wait to reveal the final result, but if you want to check out some of Nic’s gorgeous wedding stationery designs in the meantime, take a look at her lovely little business, Paper Dates.

In-line with the sorting the invite designs we’ve also firmed up our guest list, which is no mean feat, as despite family politics, we’ve remained determined to invite those closest to us, rather than who’s ‘expected’ to be attending. At my brother’s recent wedding (where Andy and I are pictured in the opening image to today’s post), he and his partner Ben invited just 40 people to their ceremony and evening reception – the vast majority of these being friends – and then opened up the invite to around 100 guests the following evening for a larger-scale party. The result was a really special and intimate atmosphere for the main part of the wedding that we’d love to replicate on our big day, though our numbers are slightly higher due to the style of wedding. Evening guests have been kept to a minimum not to disrupt the flow of the proceedings, and as we’re having a Thursday wedding we appreciate the logistics of people travelling on a work night could be tricky.

So what else? Just the small matter of finding my wedding dress! It fills me with both excitement and nerves to say that after just two bridal boutique appointments, I’ve found the one! I’m not nervous about my choice, just that it makes it all seem so real and we have plenty of planning left to do.

When initially thinking about my dress search I loved the idea of going to around four or five boutiques, trying on lots of gorgeous dresses while enjoying glasses of fizz before making my mind up – but that wasn’t quite the case as it all happened rather quickly, and on reflection I’m rather glad it did. You see, I’m notoriously indecisive so in the back of my mind I was worried that I wouldn’t be able to find the perfect dress and as the search would continue I’d become more disheartened and lose my focus.

Rach & Nic

For anyone fearing the same, my advice to help you in your search would be:

1 Initially look in magazines and blogs to find styles of dresses that you think you would like.

2 Next, try to find designers that have those styles in their collections, the price range of such dresses and the boutiques that stock them.

3 If you come across a certain dress by a designer that you are really drawn to, enquire with the boutique if they stock that particular design and, if not, are they able to call it in from the designer for you to try on at your appointment or do they have a designer event coming up where they will have the full collection in store for a limited time?

4 Take two, three people maximum to your appointment with you to avoid too many differing opinions. I took my mum and best friend Nic as these are the people I tend to shop with and they know my style and personality best. Most importantly I knew they would be 100% honest with me.

5 Try on a variety of styles. Even if you couldn’t think of anything worse than an A-line princess gown it’s good to try a variety of style to get an idea of what you do want – and while you might not like the overall style on you, there may be an element, such as the neckline, that you love and can look for in another design.

6 Go to a professional boutique rather than shopping on the high street or at warehouse style stores. The service that I received at both boutiques was second to none, as experienced stylists they listened to my plans and style and suggested dresses accordingly, and even made further suggestions on how the design could be altered. Those that have an in-house seamstress in particular are great at giving you alternatives, such as differing necklines, adding straps, sleeves or building in bra cups (the ab-so-lute dream for us small-busted girls keen not to look like a 13-year-old on their wedding day).

7 Move. Don’t just walk around the changing room and boutique rigid, you will need to be able to eat, drink, sit (and possibly kneel if in church), hug and dance in that dress so you have to feel comfortable and at ease.

8 Finally, when you find a dress you like ask yourself – can you see yourself getting married in that dress and will it work with the venue? Don’t worry about the styling, as these are details that will follow and that you can alter to work in-line with the dress. The most important thing is that you are comfortable, feel confident and above all, you love it!

During my appointments my mum and Nic compared me to Princess Diana and Shirley Bassey in some of the dresses so their speechless reactions and teary eyes spoke volumes when I emerged in what will be my dress for the big day. Thankfully there were no comparisons and the overriding opinion was that the dress was totally me!

And so, my journey continues, and I imagine there will need to be a fair few more ‘wedding meetings’ scheduled with Andy up to May, not to mention a ‘hen do brief’ with my #bridesquad as I try to decide where to have my final hurrah as Miss Parry – and make clear that no phallic straws or inflatables will be required!*

*Editor’s note: Just try and stop us Rach!

 

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Wedding Planning SOS: Have Your Cake & Eat It!

April 5th, 2012 | Julia Braime

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This morning it’s all about cake – wahey!

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Our resident wedding planning expert, Helen of Bash, talks us through the process of choosing a wedding cake in the hope that you really will be able to have your cake and eat it on your big day!

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Meanwhile, I have a very pressing engagement to attend to… er… {disappears to the kitchen in search of sweet things}

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Wedding Cake via Hello Naomi   Wedding Cake via Hello Naomi

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Helen says: The requirement for a wedding cake is borne out of many traditions. One of the first began in Ancient Rome where small wheat cakes were broken over the bride’s head! It was thought this ritual would bring good fortune to the couple and their guests, who would scramble to polish off the crumbs from the broken bread in order to ensure prosperity for themselves.

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The first signs of a tiered wedding cake appeared in Medieval England in the form of a succulent slab made from fruit and wine, which was regarded as a symbol of fertility and prosperity and would last at least until the couple’s first anniversary. A pile of cakes would be stacked high, which the Bride and Groom were required to kiss over. The idea was to stack them as high as possible to make it difficult for the couple to kiss over the top. If they were able, it was thought to symbolise a life time of prosperity. The bride would then help the groom cut the cake, symbolising her promise to help and support him wherever possible. If they proceeded to feed each other the first slice, they were committing to provide for and share with each other for life.

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Today, considering the number of hurdles we encounter whilst planning a wedding, it’s perhaps just as well that you don’t need to worry about jumping over cake! Fortunately, tradition has given way to taste. And whilst there are no longer any hard and fast rules associated with choosing a cake there are definitely a few pitfalls to avoid.

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Trends have as much influence now as when Queen Victoria chose to wear a white gown when she married Prince Albert in 1840, after which big and white became the norm. But in recent years, fruit cakes encased in royal (white) icing have given way to a rainbow of colours and a myriad of flavours and fillings.

Where to start?

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Wedding Cake via Hello Naomi   Wedding Cake via Hello Naomi

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Helen’s top tips for choosing your wedding cake

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Give some thought to what you’d really like and set a budget. Decide how much you’re willing to spend and how your cake fits in with your overall vision for the day. For instance, will you cut it and offer a piece to every guest to take away with them, incorporate it into the meal as desert, or cut costs with a polystyrene tier or two and serve slices from a discrete tray, baked separately so as not to disturb the masterpiece? It might sound a bit over the top but considering all the options may save you money and time in the long run.

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Be prepared to order your cake at least three months before the wedding. As the size of the cake is usually determined by the number of guests, you’ll need to have your numbers at the ready, and bear in mind that if the cake is to fit in with your overall theme, you’ll need to have a colour pallet in mind. Your choice of dress, flowers and other finishing touches may also have a bearing on the design of your cake.

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Look for inspiration on the web, read wedding blogs and visit Bridal Fayres in order to gather ideas and identify what you do and do not like.

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By all means seek recommendations but most importantly…..eat cake! Ask every cake designer you meet for samples.

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Consider all the alternatives to a tiered cake, such as a cup cake tower, celebratory cookies, a brownie extravaganza or a cheese cake…yes, even a cake made of cheese!

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When you think you’ve found the right supplier, arrange a consultation. Take pictures of any designs you like (and don’t) and be prepared to describe as many elements of your day as possible. As well as understanding your colour pallet, they may also ask to see pictures of your dress and flowers, particularly if the cake is to be decorated with coordinating ribbons, swirls, flowers, lace or icing patterns to echo the embroidery on your dress.

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HEARTConsider to what extent the cake could reflect your image. Since we’re no longer bound by tradition, the only limit is your imagination. Whether it’s to be fruit or sponge, flavoured, iced or decorated is entirely up to you. Don’t be afraid to opt for a quirky, bespoke design incorporating spots, stripes and personalised toppers reflecting your individual personalities and hobbies!

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HEARTWill it be vanilla, lemon, coffee, chocolate fudge, orange, fruit, coconut, banana or carrot? Filled with butter cream or jam or both? Don’t rule out the possibility that each tier could be a different flavour.

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HEARTIf it is a fruit cake, it should be made as far ahead of the wedding as possible to give the recipe chance to develop and mature, whereas a sponge cake must be freshly baked no more than a couple of days before the wedding.

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HEARTEstablish whether any guests have any allergies or special dietary requirements, e.g. gluten free. Can the cake designer cater for this?

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HEARTEstablish how the cake will be transported, when it will be delivered and assembled, and by whom.

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HEARTIs there an additional cost for a cake stand to be supplied? Many venues have their own and can supply one for you.

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HEARTAsk for everything to be confirmed in writing in a contract and establish what deposit is payable and when.

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Get it right and your cake will be a focal point, a centre piece and quite possibly, the best dressed guest at your wedding. Get it wrong and you’ll wish you hadn’t!

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Wedding Cake via Hello Naomi   Wedding Cake via Hello Naomi

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Previous guest posts by Helen:

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Wedding Planning SOS- Hello Petal!

Wedding Planning SOS- Practical Paper- Wedding Invitations

Wedding Planning SOS – Picture Perfect- How To Choose A Wedding Photographer

Wedding Planning SOS- Hotel, Motel, Holiday Inn- Wedding Venue Rescue

Your Move! Wedding Planning SOS- Where On Earth To Begin?!

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Would you like to be a guest blogger for Brides Up NorthContact me

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Brides Up North UK Wedding Blog – Images © Hello Naomi via Pinterest

Bash is a Brides Up North Featured Supplier, but this is not a sponsored post

Contact Brides Up North to submit your business as a Featured Supplier

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Brides Up North UK Wedding Blog

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Wedding Planning SOS: Hello Petal!

March 15th, 2012 | Julia Braime

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Faye Hatton Photography for Leafy Couture

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It might not surprise you that when planning my own wedding, I was one of those brides who kept a wedding scrapbook (more on my own wedding scrapbook coming up very soon on the wedding blog) – not so much a place for collecting ideas – more a work of art to be treasured for centuries to come.  By me and me alone, but still:  it was fabulous!

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So, when it came to finding a florist to turn my dreams into reality (and on budget!) this was no mean feat.  I was lucky to know and work with amazing North East florist Claire De Lune, who absolutely nailed it on our big day (you can see some pictures here, here, here and here if you are so inclined) – but what if you have no idea where to start?

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That’s where my fabulous guest blogger and Yorkshire wedding planner, Helen of Bash comes in!  Take it away Helen! 

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With images by Faye Hatton Photography and flowers by Leafy Couture

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Helen says: As an established Wedding Planner, I am experienced in helping couples at various stages of the planning process to achieve their perfect day. It is something I am particularly passionate about. Nothing gives me greater satisfaction than the sight of a gleaming smile on the face of a radiant bride, enjoying every moment as her dream day unfolds. With this in mind, is it surprising that I am ever so slightly particular about the suppliers I choose to work with? It’s essential they share the same ethos: they’ll be prepared to take time to get to know and understand you, and will be determined to deliver a service that exceeds your expectations.

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In many cases, this is often the very reason why so many Brides contact me. Having chosen a venue and visited a number of wedding fairs where they’ve met numerous photographers and tasted great cake, they need a helping hand in refining their choices but don’t know where to start.

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So far in this series, we’ve looked at identifying priorities, choosing a venue, finding the right photographer and sourcing stationery, and now it’s the florist’s turn. Granted, your florist plays a huge part in terms of creating some of the most important accessories for your day, but before you rush out to meet them, please take another leaf out of this little ‘Wedding Planning SOS’ book.

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Faye Hatton Photography for Leafy Couture

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Great florists do get booked early and often impose a limit on the number of weddings they are willing to do to ensure they can offer a personal service so it is worth starting the search as early as possible.  Before you get started, look for testimonials on florists’ own websites. There’s nothing quite like a genuine recommendation.

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Not only is it important to choose wisely, it is vital that you give them all the information they need in order to create what you’re looking for. There are a number of factors which will almost certainly influence your choice of flowers, not least the venue (in terms of its scope and grandeur), the style of your dress and of course, any colour palette you have in mind.

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Faye Hatton Photography for Leafy Couture

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In preparation for any consultations, it is also worthwhile gathering together fabric swatches and collecting images, clippings and articles which help to illustrate what you do and do not like. Whilst you may not have the time to invest in creating mood boards, at least be prepared to describe what you consider to be the key aspects of your day as these will inevitably have a bearing on the choices you make.

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Even if you haven’t selected your dress, be prepared to talk about the styles you like and what you believe will suit you. Bear in mind that you will be carrying the ultimate accessory which should complement both the dress and your body shape. An oversized bouquet can so easily overshadow a simple gown or cover up gorgeous curves, which could otherwise be accentuated. Visualise yourself carrying your bouquet. How does it look? How do you want to feel?

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Faye Hatton Photography for Leafy Couture

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Think of a reason… will your bouquet and any other floral accessories contain any flowers which have a special meaning to you? Perhaps there’s a particular flower that resonates with you because its appearance or scent reminds you of a special person, place or time.

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Whatever the season… although it has to be said that some flowers are simply not available all year round, a great florist should usually be able to source what you’re looking for, or at least suggest a suitable alternative. Do bear in mind that seasonality can have a significant bearing on cost. Flowers are particularly expensive around Valentine’s and Mother’s Day and at Christmas time, red and white roses generally become more expensive.

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Faye Hatton Photography for Leafy Couture

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Once you’ve considered these points, you are ready to meet with a florist to talk through your ideas. This is an ideal opportunity to ask questions about the service they offer:

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Who will create your bouquet, bridesmaid’s flowers, ceremony arrangements, centre pieces, button holes and corsages? Many hands make light work but how personal is the service you will receive?

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Will they deliver to multiple locations and will this be included in their quotation or is there an additional cost?

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How flexible are they? If they’re delivering flowers for more than one wedding on your wedding day, can they co-ordinate delivery with your photographer’s arrival? This is particularly important if you want to incorporate the delivery of the flowers into the documentary of your day.

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Is it possible to see a sample of their work?

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Are they prepared to arrange a meeting at the venue?

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 Could any elements be re-cycled? For example, flowers used to decorate the ceremony might also be utilised during the reception or evening celebrations. Perhaps they might even double up as gifts?

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 Will they collect any hired items, such as vessels or vases the next day or is it your responsibility to return them?

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What are their payment terms?

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Following the consultation, your florist should write up a detailed proposal, itemising the number of arrangements, the kinds of flowers to be used, and any additional costs associated with delivery and set-up.

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Faye Hatton Photography for Leafy Couture

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If you have followed this advice and asked the right questions, I hope you will be happy with the outcome and receive precisely the flowers you want. You will certainly avoid some of the pitfalls that are usually the result of a florist having no option other than to create their own interpretation of your ideas, because you haven’t been clear from the start.

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Faye Hatton Photography for Leafy Couture

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Previous guest posts by Helen:

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Wedding Planning SOS- Practical Paper- Wedding Invitations

Wedding Planning SOS – Picture Perfect- How To Choose A Wedding Photographer

Your Move! Wedding Planning SOS- Where On Earth To Begin?!

Wedding Planning SOS- Hotel, Motel, Holiday Inn- Wedding Venue Rescue

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Would you like to be a guest blogger for Brides Up NorthContact me

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Brides Up North UK Wedding Blog – Images © Faye Hatton Photography for Leafy Couture

Bash is a Brides Up North Featured Supplier, but this is not a sponsored post

Contact Brides Up North to submit your business as a Featured Supplier

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Wedding Planning SOS – Picture Perfect? How To Choose A Wedding Photographer

February 16th, 2012 | Julia Braime

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Karen McGowran

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As a , I receive many, many submissions to my inbox daily.  Mostly, I love what I see – gorgeous images, pretty details and a happy bride and groom.  Sometimes, not so much.  Very rarely I’ll be so disappointed to receive a submission (always from a “photographer” I’ve never heard of before) with poor lighting, accidental composition, could-do-better-yourself sort of stuff.  The sort of stuff you won’t see featured on these pages.

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One of the main things my readers tell me that they love about this blog is the chance to see real weddings from the real life photographers in their area – people that they might actually book to shoot their wedding, given the local focus of the blog.  Certainly, seeing a photographer whose work you like turning out excellent images on a regular basis is going to help your decision making process.  The point is – it’s your decision, your wedding and YOU who has to like their work, I can only put it in front of you.

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So, if you are having trouble with the decision making process, my guest blogger Helen of Bash is here with her handy hints for choosing a wedding photographer.

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We’re not saying this is the only way to make the decision, but Helen’s checklist might come in handy!

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Helen would like to thank Peter Slaney of Zero Eight Photography for his valuable insights which helped her to create this article.

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HEART

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Over to Helen: If you’ve been following this series avidly, you’re probably smiling contentedly having nailed your priorities and found a fabulous venue, and might even be wondering what all the fuss is about. Surely there’s not that much left to do? The rest of the planning will be a piece of cake, right? Hmmm. In actual fact we’ll get our teeth into cake in another post, but not before we’ve considered how to find the perfect photographer.

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One thing’s for sure. You will be spoilt for choice. There’s a market place awash with photographers who are all as keen as mustard to capture your day in the most imaginative and memorable way. No sooner have you googled ‘Wedding Photographer’, than you’ll find an array of boys and girls willing to wow you with their classic, contemporary, reportage, modern, capture the moment magic, not to mention pre-wedding shoots, trash the dress and this, that and the other. With an album? Without an album? Bronze, silver or gold? From a few hundred to a few thousand pounds. What’s it to be?

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So many of the couples we speak to simply don’t know where to start and with this in mind, we’re here to offer some friendly advice.

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Despite anything anyone might say to the contrary, your photographs are really, really important. A great photographer will capture the unique moments that make YOUR day; the emotions and glances you might not see, which might otherwise be lost amongst the euphoria and excitement that inevitably prevails. Stop and think about that for a moment. Done well – and we mean really well – this collection of images is so much more than an ‘account’ of your day! This is the stuff you’ll want to come back to, time and time again, and will cherish FOREVER.

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The best boys and girls will be booked very quickly and are often spoken for up to two years in advance. Be prepared to invest some time and put the leg work in. Trawl the web, read interviews and look over real weddings on blogs like this one, visit wedding fairs and ask for word of mouth recommendations. But if Auntie Mary suggests that Uncle Bob brings his camera in order to save you some money, think carefully. Think very, very carefully.

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This is your story. How do you want it to be documented? The styles of wedding photography available are evolving. These days, traditional staged and group shots are less popular and whilst there’s still a desire for honesty, there’s also an increasing demand for more fun, natural, funky, reportage styles.

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Unless you involve a wedding planner, who should be able to recommend a selection of photographers who meet your criteria and (this is VERY important) who they believe you will get along well with, you might need some pointers. So we’ve pulled together eight Ps, for ppppppppractically perfect photography;

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Karen McGowran

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HEARTPrice it up

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Be aware of what’s included in the price and consider the value of the overall package. Some photographers will stipulate that they’re only available to spend a limited amount of time with you, whereas others will be dedicated to working with you all day.  What elements of the package are most important to you? It there an option to receive images on a disc?  What about albums?  Are there any hidden extras?

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HEARTPersonality

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With an idea of your preferred style and a budget in mind, it’s easy to draw up a shortlist. Call two or three and book consultations. Ask to see samples of their albums but first and foremost, expect them to make the effort to understand precisely how you envisage your day and encourage you to talk about the most important aspects of it. Are you confident that they have the experience and the attitude to ensure you get the best result for your budget? Do you like them? Many good photographers offer a pre-wedding shoot and a venue visit as part of their package. This is a great opportunity for you to get to know one another and develop a rapport before the big day. Do they inspire you with confidence or is your inner voice telling you to beware? Be wary of anyone who wants to talk only about their awards or the letters after their name. At this point in the process, the conversation should be all about you! If you trust your instincts, you won’t go far wrong.  Remember – the choice is yours!

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Portfolio

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Expect to see a varied portfolio containing a selection of recent, complete weddings. Are the images attractive, in focus and does the use of light and the composition draw you in and make you look twice?

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Plan B

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Expect them to have one! Do they carry spare equipment? How many cameras will they bring on the day? Two digital and a medium format film camera is always a good start. If the digital camera malfunctions, the film won’t let you down. How will they cope with sudden changes in weather or conditions which adversely affect the distribution of light?

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Paperwork

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All practising photographers should have Public Liability and Personal Indemnity insurance, ask to see these certificates. Many venues will not allow uninsured photographers on site.  Insist on having a contract, read it top to tail and query anything you’re not 100% happy with before you sign on the dotted line.

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Products

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How will you receive your images? Do the albums or books you’re offered fit your style?

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Payment

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Ordinarily, you should expect to pay a booking-fee in order to secure a date. The remaining balance is then usually payable within a month or so before the big day.

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And finally…

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Perfection

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By all means look for it – search the web, the wedding blogs and the magazines for that perfect shot, but please consider one thing: ‘What do you want to remember from your day? The cake, the flowers, the dress… or do you want to focus on that moment between you two? The boy? Who fell in love with a girl?’

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Helen is owner and wedding planner at BashClick here to read an interview with Helen

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Previous guest posts by Helen:

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Your Move! Wedding Planning SOS- Where On Earth To Begin?!

Wedding Planning SOS- Hotel, Motel, Holiday Inn- Wedding Venue Rescue

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Would you like to be a guest blogger for Brides Up NorthContact me

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Brides Up North UK Wedding Blog – Images © 2012 Karen McGowran 

Bash is a Brides Up North Featured Supplier, but this is not a sponsored post

Contact Brides Up North to submit your business as a Featured Supplier

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Brides Up North UK Wedding Blog

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