The Ceremony

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A few weeks have passed since my last blog post deconstructing a wedding day as I see it through my lens. And unfortunately we’re still no closer to knowing when weddings will be back fully taking place. As it stands weddings can take place but only for a total of 30 people in attendance. It does now mean that you can get married and then have a drink and some food to celebrate but it’s far from the wedding days which many couples have planned and dreamed of.

Having previously covered the ‘Getting Ready’ and the ‘Arrivals’ elements of the day, we now come to the most important part of the wedding day. The Ceremony itself. Without it there is no wedding. It really is THE most important part of the day. And when compiling images for this blog post it reminds me why I love photographing weddings (as if I needed a reminder… though it has now been over 5 months since I photographed a wedding!).

This is the part of the day where so much emotion is shown. Whether that’s the nervous groom as he waits for his bride to walk down the aisle in church, tearful mum’s, proud grandparents, excited bridesmaids, and brides in fits of laughter. Hopefully the images below will give you a sense of the emotions seen.

I’ve had the pleasure of photographing all sorts of ceremonies. From traditional church ceremonies, Jewish and Indian ceremonies, humanist ceremonies, to outdoor ceremonies conducted by celebrants or friends of the couple in a field or on a beach.

Quite often photographing the ceremony is the most challenging part of the day. I have to be 100% alert, completely aware of what is happening, be the most discrete as I can be, respectful of those conducting the ceremony, all at the same time as making absolutely sure I don’t miss anything important.  It is without doubt the most stressful part of the day for me. You have to have massive reliance on your equipment, if something fails you can’t ask for everything to stop while you head off to your car for back-up cameras. This is why I’ve usually got at least 2 cameras and 3 lenses with me at this stage – I’ve even been known to have 3 cameras and lenses to ensure everything is covered.

In addition, there are often a few barriers preventing full creative flexibility during ceremonies. I’ve had vicars tell me that photography is prohibited during the whole ceremony, or certain parts of the ceremony. As long as couples are aware of this then that is fine. If at all possible I’ll go all out stealth in these scenarios and put the camera into silent mode, sit in the congregation and try and get some sneaky shots… after all, the wedding guests are doing it with their camera phones so why can’t I? Other restrictions in the past have meant I’m only allowed in one area of the church meaning that compositions of shots can be pretty limited and lens choices become really important.

And then there is the signing of the register shot. Every photographer I know blummin’ well hates this shot. In some parts of the country its forbidden to photograph the actual signing of the register and regardless of what you tell vicars or registrars they simply don’t understand that we’re really not interested in photographing the information that is in the book, but more the act of the signing. So the “data-protection” argument is really woolly and quite pointless. When you are permitted to take photos of the signing you can capture some great authentic moments which document a really important part of the day. The posed signing of the register shot using a blank book really comes from the old guard of wedding photography. When almost every photo was staged due to the number of photos being limited by the rolls of film the photographer brought with them. When it comes to this shot, for sure I’m going to take it, and we’ll make sure its all traditional but I’m then going to look for something with a bit of character – the pulling of a daft face, the laughter during the time when guests photograph the couple.

At the end of the ceremony, when the vows have been taken, the rings exchanged, and the register is signed there really is a massive sense of relief signalling the start of the fun! That walk back down the aisle as a newly married couple is mega fun to photograph. Plenty of smiles, laughter, high fives, and occasionally face fulls of confetti! Ah confetti… one of my favourite shots of the day… maybe I’ll do a whole blog post of just confetti photos, what do you think?

Anyway, enjoy the selection of photos below from recent wedding ceremonies.

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