Congratulations you are engaged

Now the fun begins, When I say fun I mean have fun planning your special day over the years I have been involved with so many weddings but with stress and family pressures involved sometimes having fun seems to be the last thing going on.

Remember its your day no matter how well you plan it, there will be some people who are unhappy with what you have done. Don’t worry about it its your day not theirs.

Don’t always aim for perfection in everything sometimes good is good enough.

Rule No 1 Have fun!

Findon Manor

Your wedding Venue

Booking a wedding venue does not have to break the bank. You don’t need to book a stately manor or a castle. There are lots of plush venues that will give you huge discounts for last minute bookings, when I say last minute I mean 6 months in advance rather than a year. There are so many different types of venues from the traditional to the downright bizarre.

Church, castle, hotel, boat, swimming pool, Museum, Restaurant, Pub, Town Hall, Family members garden with a marquee, local tennis club or golf club, country club, community hall, hot air balloon, beach.

Wherever you choose your venue make sure there is easy parking and toilet facilities. If you have a relative with a big garden and lots of guests, you may want to hire extra toilet or two.

Often couples hold the ceremony and the reception in the same venue. When I first set out photographing weddings it was normal to attend the brides home then go to the church photograph the groom, best man and guests arriving. Photographing the ceremony then all the group shots in the church grounds, then everyone moving on to the reception. Now more than half the wedding I’m hired to photograph the bride has a room at the hotel and everything is under one roof, if I’m honest from a photographer’s point of view this makes the job of photographing a wedding more relaxed not just for me but for everyone. Also from a photographer’s point of view most hotel venues have fantastic looking locations and I’m not trying to photograph groups and avoiding the graves and uncut grass.

Again, from my experience If you are having the ceremony and the reception at two separate venues make sure you build in enough time from when you arrive at the reception to having the sit-down meal for your photographer to get all the photography done. I have had experiences of 200 guests arriving at the reception for 3.00PM and the sit-down meal being arranged for 4 PM. An hour may seem plenty of time to photograph the guests and couple, but you have to build in enough time to allow for all the guests arriving from the church, if there’s some distance between the two venues you can end up waiting up to 30 minutes from the first gest arriving at the reception and the last one in, most will go to the bar on arriving so build in enough time and make things easier for your guests by providing a map between the two venues.

Important question to ask is do they only do one wedding at the venue per day?

What’s included in the package price?

Welcome drink?


Three course meals?  Evening buffet?


Table water?

Wedding cake/Knife?

Sound system for speeches?

Arranging the seating Plan

This is normally one of the things that may upset someone if they don’t feel they have been put in what they consider to be premier position. This can include parents who have remarried and have new partners, so you must think carefully, one way round all this is to mix everyone up on the tables, then all you have to worry about is the top table.

Seating scenarios for the top table

G=Groom B=Bride CB=Chief bridesmaid F=Father SF=Step father

M=Mother SM= Step mother Best man


CB  GF  BM  G  B  BF  GM  Best Man

Brides side divorced and remarried

BSF  CB  GF  BM  G  B  BF  GM  Best man BSM

Grooms side divorced and remarried

Best man  GSM  GF  BM  G  B  BF  GM  GSF  CB

Choosing a Photographer

The photography is one of the most important aspects of your wedding day. Wedding photos are all you will have as a physical memory of your special day. There are many styles of photography traditional, reportage, Black & white, creative contemporary and romantic. In my opinion you should choose a photographer that covers many of the styles. Sticking to one type of style is a bit risky as trends change and if you pick a say just reportage in a few years it runs the risk of looking like a member of your family did the photography. Always try and use a photographer with a lot of experience, someone you can cope with any weather conditions and still provide you with a beautiful set of photographs. Also choose a photographer that you feel at ease with, a photographer should be versatile on your day and be able to adapt to any changes that you make to wedding coverage during the day. Always make sure the photographers work you see is the photographer you are going to get on the day. Some of the larger studios hire in freelancers to cover during busy periods. Again, I would recommend use established individual photographers who run small businesses and only cover one wedding per day.

Photography by David Oakley

wedding photo gallery