Well then, this ‘Blog Posts That Want To be A Book When They Grow Up’ lark is certainly proving to be an interesting project. I started drafting a Contents page with possible Chapter headings (can you tell that I am determined this will be a book one day!) and then continued with some bullet points for topics likely to be covered in each chapter. It quickly became evident that for every bullet point I scribbled down, I seemed to think of at least 3 or 4 other things that I wanted to include – not necessarily in that chapter – and soon had notes all over the place, apparently breeding like crazy!
Pause for breath, have a think, and start again.
Contents page Take 2 then appeared with slightly more coherent notes. Chapter 1: Location. Then again, maybe not. Time of Year can make a big difference to plans, don’t you think?
So, the first in this series of posts will now feature 101 Things to Think About on the Time of Year for your wedding. Don’t panic – there aren’t really 101 things; well, not yet anyway, but there’s still time!
This ‘Chapter’ (as with many of the others no doubt), may seem like it is a myriad of ‘State the Obvious’ matters, but the one thing I have come to realise in this wedding business is that there really is no such thing as ‘The Obvious’. What may seem obvious to you or me often hasn’t even briefly passed through the head of someone else. What I have found most often is that a couple are so focused on a particular element of the wedding that means a lot to them, that they often completely overlook something else impacted by that decision that may indeed seem pretty obvious: but not to them.
One thing to make clear here before we go any further on this journey is that what you will find in this chapter, and those that follow, is not the answer to ‘What Makes A Good Wedding’, but a list of things to consider when making your own decisions on the things that matter to you and are hopefully going to make the wedding YOU are planning a good one, whether you are planning for yourself, or someone else.
Right then, let’s get going…….
Many churches, especially those in rural locations, are often accessed from small country roads, or even very small lanes. They can be beautiful in Spring and Summer when lined with wild flowers and newly sprung leaves on the trees etc, but in the Autumn / Winter they can get really messy if you get hit with a spell of rain in the days leading up to the wedding, and may even be completely inaccessible if you get hit with snow!
Question: How will you and your guests get to the church if the weather goes against you?
Another potential issue in a similar vein is parking. Many churches only have a small grassy area nearby for parking, or the country road or lane itself is often the only available space. Getting up a muddy lane is made even worse if there are already cars parked on it.
Obviously, if you are hit with bad weather at the last minute you may have to rely on some lateral thinking to overcome the problem you face, but the main reason for these articles existing in the first place is to try to avoid the need for that: a bit of lateral thinking in advance can make your life (and that of your guests) so much easier. It is better to have a great plan that never gets used than to suddenly find you need one when there is no time to prepare one.
- Speak to a local pub or hotel and see if you can get guests to gather there and use their car park and arrange for a mini-bus (or two) to shuttle guests up to the church. You could maybe do a deal with the landlord that you pay him to provide some drinks or snacks for guests in return for use of his car park. The extra cash in his till from guests may of course be incentive enough!
- If there is a suitable car park in a village nearby, direct guests there and shuttle them to the church, or get guests to arrange car-shares to reduce the number of cars attempting to get up the muddy lane.
- Don’t forget to make sure YOUR transport can get to the church or you’ll be swapping those fabulous Jimmy Choos for Wellies!
There is of course always a positive spin here: a Bride in wellies or tractors ferrying guests up a snowly lane can make great, and very unusual, pictures for your album!
The Reception Venue
Reception venues come in all shapes and sizes (and budgets!). Chances are you already have a reasonable idea of the sort of thing you are looking for: grand (or cosy) hotel; converted barn; country house; stately home; marquee in your own garden; lighthouse; windmill or any other variety of possible options available these days.
Very often venues are chosen for their grounds and gardens, not just the room you that will host your reception. There is no doubt that having access to nice open spaces can make a huge difference to your day, but just a little ‘state the obvious’ thought can ensure that you are able to take full advantage of the space available and make sure that it works for you to help create your perfect day.
Assuming you have set the date for your wedding by this stage (or at least know roughly when you want it to be), try and visit your potential venues around the same time of year if you can as this is the only way you will get a true reflection of what they might look like when your big day arrives. If this is not possible for whatever reason, then try and see them out of season e.g. if you are planning a Spring / Summer wedding, visit in the winter: if you love the venue in the winter, it is going to be even more beautiful when the sun is shining and the garden is in full bloom. If you do this the other way around – visit in Spring for a planned Winter wedding – you could be in for a disappointment as the venue will definitely look very different on your big day, and probably not for the better.
One advantage of the digital age we are living in is that you can also search for images on the internet which show your venue at different times of the year. Also make sure you speak to the Wedding Co-ordinator about how the venue is likely to look in your chosen month: it is part of their job to sell the venue to you so a venue with a large garden that may not look its best in Winter will more than likely have other features that will still be great and provide good locations for your photographs, or you may be given access to beautiful grand rooms inside the venue for your photographs that are not available in the summer months.
And don’t forget access here too: you may encounter the same sort of problems described in the previous section about churches when you get to (or try to get to) your reception venue on a wet or snowy day. If your chosen venue is quite remote, make sure you also have a think about how people will get home. Very often, it is near impossible to get taxis to a remote country venue at midnight on a Saturday! Again, check with your Wedding Co-ordinator and make sure that information on local taxi companies is available, together with any advice on how early they should be booked; or think about providing a mini-bus service to get your guests back to the local village or town where getting taxis may be easier.
One final note on transport: make sure your own chosen method of transport suits the time of year too. An open top carriage may be your dream method of arrival but could be a dodgy choice for a Winter wedding if it doesn’t have a covered option (this applies to any time of year really). Also bear in mind that vintage cars tend not to have air-conditioning and can turn into portable ovens in Summer!
And finally, things to think about for those all-important photographs that will record your fabulous big day for ever more! It was ‘thoughts from a photographer’ that inspired these posts in the first place after all.
First things first: although I am about to give another list of potential issues for you, please bear in mind that this is one of the key reasons I urge you to commission the services of a professional photographer as opposed to those of ‘Uncle Bob’. A pro-photographer has encountered all of these scenarios before and is well versed in avoiding / dealing with / or making the best of them. That’s our job – whatever your day throws at you, good or bad, we’ll deal with it to ensure you have a great set of photographs to remember your day by (even if they maybe aren’t quite what you planned for!).
Each season beings its own set of benefits and challenges; there is no such thing as the perfect time for a wedding (well, not in the UK anyway!).
Summer, not surprisingly, is high season for weddings and rightly so: you have a much greater chance of getting a warm and lovely day for your wedding. But even Summer brings challenges, the key one being that very sunshine you are no doubt praying for. Bright, full-on sunshine is the photographer’s nightmare – it brings harsh contrast, dark shadows and burn-out on your beautiful white dress. Bright sunshine can have a big impact on your Summer wedding photographs. If your ceremony is around the 12.00 – 1.00 slot in the afternoon, your grand exit from the church / ceremony room can lead you straight into the harshest sunlight of the day (even Harry and Meghan hit this problem!). It can also be a problem if you have a particular background in mind for your family group shots: if this background is in full sunshine your photographs won’t be as nice as they should be, but fear not – your photographer will always guide you through this, but don’t be surprised if on your bright sunny wedding day your photographer is constantly guiding you to shady areas: your photographs will be so much better if you follow their advice. Soft shady light is much more flattering, trust me.
One of the main benefits of a Summer wedding is that there is considerably more daylight available to you. This can be a life-saver on the photography front as even if that pesky bright sunshine throws a spanner at your schedule for the day, there will be more opportunities for a Plan B to revisit your chosen area later in the day when the light is softer. Summer evenings are also great for photographs – low warm evening sunshine can make for some very romantic shots. If you want your romantic shots to include one at sunset however, please remember that this comes much later in the day and you will have to be dragged away from your party to get that shot as it won’t happen until around 09.00 in the evening on average.
Winter brings its own, and very different, challenges but as with summer, there are good points as well as not so good. Apart from the obvious issue of the greater chance of poor weather, you have considerably less daylight to work with, which also means fewer opportunities for a Plan B later in the day. The whole schedule for the day requires much tighter planning in Winter. However, a bright Winter’s day can make for a beautiful wedding as the light will be lower and softer, but don’t forget that even on a bright day the chances are it will still be chilly (bring a nice wrap or cloak for your photographs to avoid freezing!). Although the shorter daylight hours can make scheduling your photographs more of a challenge, this does work in your favour for that romantic sunset shot as the sun goes down much earlier at this time of year. This is also a plus if you are planning to have fireworks or sparklers, as darkness falling earlier makes this kind of shot much easier to achieve.
Just so they don’t feel left out: Spring and Autumn are just softer versions of their Summer and Winter cousins as far as timing of your wedding is concerned.
So there we go then – your first set of 101 Things to Think About when choosing the Time of Year for your big day! Each season brings pros and cons to the day, and don’t forget that the weather is one of the very few things you have absolutely no control over on your Wedding Day so there is no point in worrying about it – but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t at least have a think about it. Be ready for it – good or bad – and there will be no need for any worries when the day arrives.
The next topic covered will be “Location” so if you haven’t already done so, please click on the ‘Follow’ link below to make sure you are notified when it’s available for you.