Bob Marley was right.....every little thing is gonna be alright....
Wedding disasters....there, I have said it! Its a couples biggest nightmare. Something in their minds they envisage will spoil the day. Well, does it? You would think so from their point of view, but as a photographer, or a supplier, not necessarily so. Let me explain....
Wedding photography isn't just about taking pictures. It's becoming friends with the couple, its knowing the ins and outs of their day, it's about planning, organising and knowing what to expect. But it's also about dealing with the unexpected. "What can be unexpected when everything is so organised" I hear nobody cry? Well, a few things, some of which I have encountered myself, some other things that are absolutely and entirely out of our remit and probably best left alone (family punch ups, the bridesmaid getting off with the best man, that kind of thing....)!
When meeting with a couple after booking or speaking to them in a consultation, one of the most common questions, or fears, is that the weather is going to be rubbish and will spoil not only the day, but the photos. Well, let's put that one to rest straight away! There is always a way around this. If the photographer is worth their salt, part of what they are being paid for is to think creatively on their feet. To see alternatives to any unexpected issues. "But what if it's wet?", "My dress might get dirty", "oh no, my beautiful shoes!".....lets take that apart and see shall we?
The day will be wet....the biggest fear. Easily the one thing that most couples worry about. But this is Britain people! Unless you're lucky enough to be having a destination wedding in a location overseas where they have 700 days of sunshine a year and the back end of a car produces more water in an hour, you're going to have to live with the possibility that it might well rain. So, what to do? DON'T PANIC!!! Prepare. I always say, especially for weddings in notoriously changeable weather periods (August, out of season etc). Take wellies, brollies and even maybe a light waterproof jacket. "I don't want those in my photos!" I hear nobody cry again.....well, let me tell you. You do! Some of the best wedding photography I have ever seen was taken in the rain. Not only do the images have the potential to look SUPER pretty, but also....don't you have a story to tell? Isn't that what your day is about? A story of the best day of your life? The silly jacket you had to wear and the reactions it got, the beautifully lit rain in the dark for those awesome show stopping images, the umbrella turning inside out....THESE are the things you will be talking about in years to come. Might not seem it now, but trust me on this one. Memories come from strange sources...
I have been VERY fortunate in that not many of my weddings have had rain, and if they did, it wasn't that bad at all. But one wedding did have quite a lot and half the guests were from the sunny side of the US. They weren't used to it at all! But they absolutely embraced it, realised it was Britain and there was utterly nowt they could do about it, so much so they danced the entire time outside in the rain and had the time of their lives! Capturing that was both very funny and a real privilege. So it wasn't the end of the world. And they had a blast and the images were hilarious!
There are a number of incidences across the country where some of these rain hit weddings have made the news because the photographer captured the "disaster" unfolding in front of them. Instead of abandoning ship, the photographer continued shooting, even directing certain aspects of the situation to help avert any negativity regarding what was happening. It was used to both the photographers and the couples advantage. And what a story the couple had at the end of it as they completely embraced the situation as realise it was totally unavoidable and nothing could be done about it!
Possibly the most famous of these incidences was that of Jon Dennis of S6 Photography, a Sheffield based high end destination wedding photographer who happened to be doing a wedding in this country when the heavens opened and the wedding became a flood zone. The pictures he took were so good and so evocative of the happy mood of the day despite the unfolding disaster around them, he was interviewed on the BBC news to find out all about it! But what a set of images and the whole occasion was beautifully shot and there wasn't a tear of sadness in a single one. This for me is perfect wedding photography. I've met Jon before and I admire him and his work very highly. I asked permission from him to use this story and he has kindly agreed for me to share the blog of that day. See the images on Jon's blog here and be blown away. And its not just about the photographer....you have to give kudos to the couple for just letting it happen, going with it and not letting it spoil their day one bit! That's how to enjoy your wedding day!
A similar local incident was captured by Mike Thornton Photography of Cambridge (and the very person who photographed my own wedding!) and was reported in The Sun newspaper! He has kindly allowed me to share the story and can be read about here:
Some couples would look at these stories in horror, others would look at the situation and embrace it. Your decision. as remember, something like this is so rare that it DOES make the news. Its highly unlikely to happen to you. But it does illustrate that it doesn't have to be the end of your day as you know it. Or worry unduly in advance about such things happening!
Dirty dresses....dirty shoes....as said before, there is always something. But again, what's the worst could happen? Isn't actually saying "I do" to the person you love the most important thing? Everything else is just a chance for a jolly good time, no? So, embrace the little (or big) things that can go wrong, make the most of them. Your shoes aren't likely to get worn again are they? So don't sweat the bit of mud you got on them Let me take a picture of said mud and you in all your glory to capture that moment you said "ahhhh sod it"! So there is a mud stain at the bottom of your dress? You're not going to clean it and there isn't a bride in the country who didn't get their dress dirty in some way or other on the day. You look amazing anyway! Let it be a story, and from my point of view, let me capture that for you.
Too many weddings nowadays are a bit "plug and play" and all go along the same theme. And that's fine. Nothing wrong with that if you want something simple, easy and nice. But those weddings that stand out tend to be the ones where people just relax. Have fun. They don't care what happens, as long as they are married and are having the time of their life. But no suppliers, especially photographers, are unaware that for some people just don't want that. It's the worst that could happen and it all has to be perfect. And fair enough. It's our day so it has to be perfect. So, what can you do to avert any potential disasters in the first place and cover all bases to try and make your day go as smoothly as possible? Well, do could your research, sit down and make a check-list of all things that YOU think could potentially go wrong. But a bit daunting eh? Of course!!! If you sat down and did this, you would never get married! And who ever really does that? Most people cover the basics. And really, its all you need.
So, what else? Well, common sense is an easy one. Check the weather forecast....I certainly would be! Check with the venue to see if they have any alternative areas away from crowds to take pictures. Have backup plans for anything you might envision could go wrong. See the potential for the small stuff that's uncontrollable and put in something that can help. There are a lot of people involved in a wedding...someone will know what to do.
But some people don't even want THAT hassle. They just want to get on and PARTY!!! So maybe the easiest and best way, is to get a wedding planner. Although hiring a wedding planner seems like an additional expense, they can be highly cost effective, especially in helping to avoid those more costly mistakes and mishaps that could happen when organised by others. Wedding planners can be utterly invaluable for taking the pressure off the couple and letting them just get on with their day. The planner will have every aspect covered and more, will know the ins and outs of what the couple want for their big day and will be able to deal with any disasters with minimal stress to the couple. If you can afford a wedding planner (and I am very aware that this is not an option for all couples) for your day though, they are invaluable and you won't know how you did without one!
My friend Vanessa of award winning, high end wedding planners, Rocks and Frocks was kind enough to recall a potential unforeseen disaster (and this ladies and gentlemen, is an absolute doozy...who saw THIS coming....) that she herself averted before the bridal party could get totally stressed about it! Vanessa says:
"On one wedding, the Bride’s grandmother had spent the week before the wedding baking and decorating a naked wedding cake - we were managing the wedding day and popped in to the bride’s parents home the day before to have a last minute run through with everyone and to check the marquee set up.
The family had popped across the road to the church for the wedding rehearsal and in the rush to get out the door, they had forgotten to shut the family dog out of the kitchen which was where the cake was being stored … I popped into the kitchen to fetch some wedding paraphernalia only to find the dog on the floor along with the cake which was smashed to pieces and half eaten (thankfully no chocolate to harm the dog!). I had to make a quick phone call to a cake maker and ask them to work through the night to provide a new cake which was delivered the following morning.
The family came home to find me trying to clean up the dog - after the initial shock had worn off (and Granny had been given a strong cup of tea) and when they realised I’d already arranged a solution they all saw the funny side of it and it made for a great moment during the FOB speech"!
Wedding planners....not just there to get the day done for you! But there to cover all bases and are huge fonts of knowledge, contacts and favours to be pulled to allow you to have the least stress possible. Nice one Vanessa! What a save!
Vanessa recently did a Facebook live chat to Alex, a previous client of theirs who they have subsequently become good friends with. They don't discuss disasters as such, but they do talk about the reasons why Alex chose to go with a planner and the benefits of doing so (one of them was to not have to worry about things going wrong!). The video can be seen here and the blog of the wedding itself can be found here. They are both well worth checking out as when you have finished, you too will want a wedding planner!
So, where am I going with all of this....
Basically, all I am trying to say is don't worry.....it's all under control. Wedding days never, ever, almost without exception, go as 100% to plan as you think or want. There is just too much going on. But as another famous musician said...Roll With It. Have fun, don't sweat it. It's your wedding day. Do what you can leading up to the day, of course! And yes, no one is denying its not stressful. It can be. But on the day itself, there is little else you could or should be doing. Leave it in the hands of the experts by then....your make up artists, your cake makers, your florists, planners, drivers, venue coordinators......whoever else is involved and yes, us, your photographers. All of the above know what they are doing. Been there, seen it, done that. And if something does go wrong, 99 times from 100, it's nothing to worry about. It's rarely a disaster that can utterly stop a wedding in its tracks. Chill, relax, be with your partner and family and friends and have the best time. Thats what its about. The rain, the cake falling over, the car getting a puncture on the way to the wedding....whatever it is, it's going to happen if it's going to happen. Always remember though, it's unlikely, very unlikely. But there is usually a way out and if not, you have a heck of a story to tell people in the future. Go on, enjoy your day! You deserve it!