Charlotte Balbier
Brides Up North Wedding Fairs

the best intentions: amateur vs pro wedding photography

April 20th, 2017 | Rachel Parry

Best Intentions (c) Jonny Draper (7)

Here at Brides Up North HQ, we’re huge advocates of choosing a wedding photographer that’s right for you and your big day. But in order to get perfect results, it’s not just about picking your favourite style of photography, but also someone who has the professional experience, skills and equipment to capture your day without fault. After all, you only get one shot.

As the cost of a wedding can easily stack up, we appreciate the temptation to take up a ‘mates rate’ offer from your relative or friend that has a flashy camera, but an ‘all the gear and no idea’ approach is a sure recipe for disappointment.

Best Intentions (c) Jonny Draper (1)

In a bid to demonstrate the difference between images taken by a professional versus a have-a-go snapper with a DSLR camera, our Sponsor and award-winning photographer Jonny Draper, teamed up with some of the team at Lancashire wedding venue Ashfield House, and a number of other North West suppliers, to showcase how the results of each vary.

Lighting, focus and composition are just a few of the issues to look out for, but it’s certainly easy to spot the difference between the pro and amateur pics.

Here to explain more about the concept and results of the comparison shoot is Ashfield House co-owner and wedding coordinator, Katie Street.

Best Intentions (c) Jonny Draper (11)

Best Intentions (c) Jonny Draper (30)

katie says: With the average UK wedding costing £26,989* it’s no surprise that couples are faced with tough cost-saving decisions when their budgets creep up and up. It’s heartbreaking however, to hear from couples who are disappointed with their photographs after the wedding because they chose the slash their photography budget. That friend with a decent DSLR camera may have the best of intentions but will the results be good enough?

With the help of our friend and award-winning wedding photographer Jonny Draper, we decided to conduct our own side-by-side, like-for-like wedding photography experiment.

Jonny, armed with his high-end equipment and years of experience was pitched against Karen, our assistant general manager, complete with her ‘decent’ DSLR camera, and our makeup artist Kerry Baker was on hand to snap away with her camera phone too.

Best Intentions (c) Jonny Draper (22)

Best Intentions (c) Jonny Draper (46)

Your friends and family, or the hobbyist, will have incredible intentions yet, if they haven’t got the equipment or the technical expertise and continued learning, then there really is no comparison. Most of the work in photographing a wedding is before and after, hours of painstaking editing, which our average enthusiast doesn’t have the ability to get right.

Years ago, taking the actual photographs was the easy part. The processing in the dark room and time spent with chemicals could go on for days. Photography was reserved for those elite professionals who had invested in their cameras, lenses, lights and film, plus the need for a dedicated dark room. It was big business! Every high street had a celebrated photography studio and you needed to book weeks in advance to arrange your sitting for family portraits, and months in advance to secure your wedding day photography.

Best Intentions (c) Jonny Draper (10)

Best Intentions (c) Jonny Draper (27)

This day and age, you can teach yourself the necessary skills from the comfort of your own laptop, and, if you have the money, invest in the world’s best kit. But – as these images show – that doesn’t replace the skill, expertise and experience of a dedicated wedding photographer.

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celtic spirit. madeline gardner for a fun-filled wedding at heaton house farm – lindsey & rory

February 9th, 2017 | Laura McDonagh

A Rustic Wedding at Heaton House Farm (c) Jonny Draper Photography (73)

Today’s real wedding will really get you in the party mood, with bagpipes, live music, caricatures, Irish dancing, magic and more!

Lindsey and Rory had the perfect countryside church wedding and celebrated afterwards with a rustic-themed do at Heaton House Farm.

You have been warned, though: further reading may result in foot-tapping, seat-dancing and a sudden urge for a glass of stout. Maybe best to leave this one until you’re out of the office…

With images by Jonny Draper

A Rustic Wedding at Heaton House Farm (c) Jonny Draper Photography (40)

lindsey says: We got engaged in Dublin at Clontarf Castle on 16th May 2014. The beginning of that week Rory asked me to get the Friday off work as he fancied going away for the weekend – then he surprised me and told me that we were going to Dublin. I assumed we would be staying in the centre of Dublin where we have stayed before; however, we carried on and arrived at Clontarf Castle. I still didn’t have an inclination! During the afternoon, Rory suggested we have a few drinks in the bar before getting ready to head out for our meal later on. I remember just wanting to relax but little did I know that Rory had arranged for the room to be made up with rose petals scattered round the room and a dress he had bought for me laid out on the bed, along with champagne and chocolates. As we left the room Rory said he ‘forgot his wallet’ but that was just so he could get the ring from his bag and leave it in the bathroom bin ready for the proposal! After a few drinks we came upstairs and I was surprised at the room all beautifully decorated…I turned around and there he was on one knee! It was perfect in every way and I was glad it was just the two of us sharing the special moment together.

A Rustic Wedding at Heaton House Farm (c) Jonny Draper Photography (59)

We got married on Friday 11th September 2015. We originally wanted Saturday 12th September, as that was the anniversary of the day we met, but it wasn’t available. Looking back, we made the right decision as the weather was perfect whereas on the Saturday it was chucking it down!

We got married at Gawsworth Church, St James The Great near Macclesfield, and our reception was held at Heaton House Farm. I’d always wanted a church wedding and the church is set in the beautiful countryside – the perfect scene for a wedding. Heaton House Farm is only 20 minutes away from the church and we couldn’t have asked for a better venue for our reception.

A Rustic Wedding at Heaton House Farm (c) Jonny Draper Photography (37)

Both Rory and I love all things rustic and so a rustic wedding theme was an easy decision. I went for a purple/pink colour for my three bridesmaids and Rory and his groomsmen wore blue suits. Once they were both chosen it was easier to think about a colour scheme for flowers and decorations. Purple was the main colour throughout, however we incorporated other colours that would complement this and even it all out.

A Rustic Wedding at Heaton House Farm (c) Jonny Draper Photography (90)

I didn’t shop around much for wedding dresses as I found a designer that I loved so it was just a case of looking for bridal shops which stocked her dresses. I ended up going to Amelia’s Bridal Boutique in Clitheroe, Lancashire, where I found my Morilee dress designed by Madeline Gardner. Her collections were just what I was looking for – elegant, feminine and stylish – and my chosen dress was just gorgeous. It was a white, trumpet style gown with a sweetheart neckline with beading and gems to the top of my neck. I also wore a long veil decorated with a few gems so that it would catch the light and complement my dress.

As I’d had such a good experience at Amelia’s Bridal, we decided to get Rory’s suit from there too. It was blue with a white shirt, a blue tweed tie, a grey tweed waistcoat with blue and brown checks on it and brown shoes.

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real wedding recap: stewart parvin for a luxurious winter wedding at colshaw hall – luisa & peter

January 3rd, 2017 | Laura McDonagh

It’s holiday season here on the blog, and as the editorial team take a short break, we’ll be leaving you with a reduced blogging schedule so that you still get your daily dose of wedding lovely. Usual service will recommence on Monday 9th January 2017 but in the meantime watch out for recaps of some of our favourite Real Weddings from 2016. 

Drop in every day for the very prettiest, most unique wedding inspiration and – if you are a Brides Up North bride – to see if your real wedding was one of our top picks.

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Luisa and Peter pulled off the impressive feat of a winter wedding without a can of snow spray or a gilded pine cone in sight. Instead, their big day at Colshaw Hall in Cheshire, was led by an organic woodland theme, full of warm earthy tones and plenty of grown-up black-tie glamour.

The food and the playlist were particular focal points for this Manchester music-loving pair, and the following day saw the festivities extended with an aprés-ski extravaganza. So get comfortable, perhaps with a glass of Malbec or a mulled wine – go on, Luisa would definitely approve!

With images by Jonny Draper Photography

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luisa says: Peter and I got engaged in Barbados. One night we went down for dinner and, instead of heading for our usual table in the restaurant, we were led down a path lined with candles that took us to a private beach and a table for two. When we sat down and opened the menus, I saw all of my favourite foods and champagne. Then a steel band appeared playing Elvis Presley’s I Cant Help Falling In Love With You. When I looked around, Peter was down on one knee; it was a truly magical moment. He made a beautiful speech and, of course, I said yes. We spent the rest of the week celebrating and relaxing; it was just so perfect!

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We chose to get married on 19th December 2015 because it was the closest Saturday to the Winter Solstice – a date important to me and my mum. We wanted a winter wedding as we felt that there were lots more options to explore in terms of the decorations and the vibe that we could create.

For the venue, we chose Colshaw Hall in Cheshire. We wanted to make sure that the event was totally private and this was the huge bonus of Colshaw: the venue and all of its grounds are hired exclusively so we wouldn’t be sharing our special day with anyone else. Secondly, as Peter’s family are based in Suffolk, we wanted to make sure that there was accommodation onsite to ensure that the wedding weekend was as easy as possible for those travelling. Having looked at quite a few venues in the area, Colshaw’s accommodation was, we felt, the most beautiful. Each room has its own stunning theme and beautiful view over the grounds. Colshaw’s Peel Suite also offered a beautiful blank canvas; no wedding looks the same there. We had hired the main house for the drinks and canapés straight after the service and this offered a unique, cosy, Christmas drinks party atmosphere.

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Theme-wise, we wanted to create a natural and organic winter forest. Peter and I love walking our dog Digby up on the Edge and we wanted to recreate that same earthy, woodland environment. I wanted my wedding to be just that little bit ‘out there’, and having the trees as the centrepiece certainly achieved that goal. As our wedding was the weekend before Christmas, I think people expected us to go down the more conventional festive route and it was truly lovely seeing their reactions to the chapel and the main room. We’d focused on lots of earthy tones, such as dark greens and ambers, making sure that everything was lit by candles to create warmth.

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I had chosen quite a traditional and simple gown designed by Stewart Parvin with the lace detail as a nod to my Italian heritage. My dress was bought and styled by the incredible ladies at LOVE Bridal in Cheshire. They helped accessorise my gown with a Stewart Parvin veil, lace jacket and honey-toned belt which contemporised it perfectly. My shoes were Hangisis by Manolo Blahnik; I just loved their quirkiness. In the evening, I removed the lace jacket and added a thin sparkly belt to liven it up for the dancing. I visited several bridal stores and LOVE Bridal’s service surpassed all the London boutiques. From the beautiful little cakes they serve to the ‘grand reveal’, the wonderful Emma and Clare have it covered.

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summer flair. a stylish wedding at hillbark hotel, cheshire – alexandra & adrian

December 7th, 2016 | Alexis Forsyth

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This evening on the blog, we’re sharing with you Alexandra and Adrian’s picturesque summer wedding.

Celebrating with friends and family at the luxury five-star Hillbark Hotel in the Wirral, the couple opted for a pared back, elegant look with a cornflower blue colour scheme, which was beautifully offset by floral arrangements of lilies, hydrangeas and roses with pale blue delphiniums.

With images by Jonny Draper Photography

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alexandra says: We got engaged on 7th June 2015, at our apartment in Spain. It was our six-year anniversary and we were having champagne on the terrace when Adrian surprised me with a photo book of our time together. On the last page it said he had a question to ask and then he got down on one knee; it was perfect!

We got married on 25th June 2016. We wanted a summer wedding roughly a year after our engagement. We looked at when our church and venue were both available and 25th it was!

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We tied the knot at St Joseph’s Church in Crosby. I’m from Crosby and this is the church I went to when I was younger.

We hosted our reception at the Hillbark Hotel in the Wirral. When we viewed the venue, we fell in love with it, plus we didn’t know anyone who had already been married there, which was important to us.

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We didn’t have a specific theme, instead we wanted a classic, fresh look and our florist and wedding coordinators were fantastic at achieving this.

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For our colour scheme, we chose cornflower blue. As we were having a summer wedding we wanted a light, summery colour and it was our favourite next to my white dress and the groomsmen’s blue suits.

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berta & blush. a stylish wedding at styal lodge – louise & glen

November 21st, 2016 | Laura McDonagh

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Today’s real wedding made everyone here at Brides Up North go weak at the knees. First, there was the romantic New York proposal story. Then we got a glimpse of the stunning blush, gold and ivory detailing. And then we saw the photographs of Louise’s backless fishtail Berta Bridal gown.

So. Insanely. Beautiful.

With images by Jonny Draper Photography.

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louise says: Glen and I got engaged in New York in December 2013. We’d just enjoyed a horse and cart ride around Central Park before we were due to go for a meal at the Rockerfeller Centre. After the horse and cart ride had finished Glen got down on one knee and proposed. I think it’s safe to say that neither of us will forget that day!

Our wedding date was Sunday 29th May 2016. We chose the date as it was the bank holiday weekend and May is usually a really sunny month – and fortunately for us, it was!

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Our venue was Styal Lodge in Cheshire. We chose our venue as it was local, but it’s also one of the most beautiful venues in Cheshire. Lucky us!

There was no theme to the wedding as such, but we did choose to name our tables after our favourite Manchester United and Liverpool players. Glen is from Liverpool and I’m from Manchester and it added a fun touch to the day.

We chose blush, ivory and gold for our colour scheme. We thought it looked simple, but beautiful and elegant.

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My wedding dress was the real star of the show. It was by designer Berta Bridal and purchased from The Wedding Club in Knightsbridge, London. It was a backless, fishtail style with lace detail. It was truly exquisite. It even sparkled in the sunlight!

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Glen wore a navy blue and black tuxedo with black velvet bow tie from Moss Bros.

The bridesmaids wore long, dusky pink dresses by Kelsey Rose to tie in with our colour scheme and the best men and groomsmen all wore blue dinner suits and black bow ties by Ted Baker from Moss Bros.

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zoom in: picking the right wedding photographer for you

August 10th, 2016 | Rachel Parry

ZT Photography (2)

ZT Photography

We often mention on the blog how much of an important role a photographer plays in a wedding; not only on the big day itself, but also in the years that follow, with their images serving as life-long memories of the special event.

As such it’s super important that you like the style of the images that your chosen photographer produces, but with so many differing types of photography to choose, making a decision can be somewhat overwhelming.

To demonstrate the different outcome a wedding album can have depending on who is behind the lens, a talented group of North West based photographers got together at the stunning Ashfield House in Wigan, to shoot the exact same subjects in the very same location.

The results, which we’re sharing with you on the blog today, are all stunning but all rather different and, as intended, perfectly highlight the importance of couples choosing the right style and personality of photographer to suit both them and their wedding.

So prepare to be impressed and amazed as we hand over the blog to Katie Street, the owner of Ashfield House who came up with the clever concept for the collaborative shoot, plus the photographers who took part: Neil Redfern, David Stubbs, Andy Wardle, ZT Photography, and our very own Brides Up North Sponsor, the lovely Jonny Draper.

Andy Wardle Photography (9)

Andy Wardle 

katie says: The way couples pick a photographer was something I’d been thinking about for a long time before suggesting this shoot. Each time I heard “she’s a friend of a friend” or “my cousin used him and he was good” I got more and more frustrated knowing these couples could be missing out on picking a photographer that was more suited to their style. As an exclusive wedding venue, we work with a number of trusted photographers to capture the romance, emotion and fun of each wedding day, each with a totally different approach to their work. I wanted to give the photographers the same day, same backdrop, same couple but capture each photographer’s individual creativity and the difference in each set of images for all to see.

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 Jonny Draper

At Ashfield House, we don’t have a one-size-fits-all approach to weddings and encourage our couples to be as individual and inventive as possible. We know that the best weddings at Ashfield play to the strengths of couples’ personalities, quirks and their passions. Photography is very similar. I’ve taken a keen interest in photography myself as an art form over the years, and am continually astounded by the quality and individuality of each photographer’s work who steps through the doors at Ashfield. My team and I stare in awe at the array of photographic work shared with us, and have often commented about the striking difference between styles and end results – even though the setting is the same. I wanted to show that picking a ‘good’ photographer isn’t enough, you need one that’s good for you.

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David Stubbs

Choosing suppliers who share your vision is absolutely key to an amazing wedding and, alongside your memories, photographs are the only thing you have left, so choose wisely! The photographers that took part were equally pleased with the final results as I was…

Neil Redfern Photography (9)

Neil Redfern

neil redfern says: Seeing everyone else’s different approaches and the way in which we each interacted with the couple was great. What I loved was that although we were all taking shots in the same location we each saw different things and that just illustrates how unique one photographer is to the next. I don’t think there was ever a time when we each wanted to take a shot the same as somebody else had.

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