4 Websites to Help Grooms Write Their Wedding Speech

Shooting Winter Weddings Workshop

I like to think I’m a modern man (please, stop sniggering at the back). I can appreciate beauty in the world when I see it (and no, I don’t mean making somewhat inappropriate comments every time Holly Willoughby walks on the screen). I’m very much in touch with my emotions, and I’m not afraid to express them. For example, last week my beloved and I watched the Remembrance Day broadcast from the Cenotaph in London, and I’m not ashamed to admit I became very misty-eyed during the two minutes silence. I’ve  even been known to have the odd sniffle during heart-wrenching primetime television shows (such as Surprise Surprise, but only because I know that Holly will never be mine. Wail!)

Being a modern man also applies to weddings – traditionally, the bride would perhaps organise the finer details of the Big Day, such as the guestlist, where to buy the rings, the wedding stationery and so on and so forth. The groom’s role would be to (a) organise the stag-do and the stripper (b) ensure his bride-to-be never saw the photos of said stag do, and (c) turn up to church roughly on time on the wedding day. But oh, how things have changed, and rightly so. There are now a plethora of resources to help the groom chip in with the wedding organisation, and there’s a wealth of info to help him write his wedding speech as well. Here are four of the best sites out there:

The Man Registry

I find it impossible to read the title of this site out loud without resorting to a comedy East-End gangster voice (“The Maaaaaaaaaaan Registry!”) However, I can assure you that this site has nothing to do with dodgy goings-on in the Whitechapel area of London, but is a veritable smorgasbord of groom-related articles, such as what to look for when renting a tuxedo, how to buy an engagement and wedding ring, and even a guide to prenuptial agreements (for those of you with plenty of money, or perhaps more to lose than the rest of us). However, it’s the speech we’re specifically interested in, so follow the link below for more information:

Groom 411

To me, this sounds like the title of a particularly rubbish TV drama based around a groom working in the emergency services, where the main character isn’t very good at his job (i.e he’s a nurse and his patients keep popping off, he’s a fireman and is a poor timekeeper, so buildings have burned to the ground by the time he arrives etc). But hey, maybe that’s just me. Turns out, it is in fact an excellent resource to help grooms on their wedding day, even if they have nicked the design of their logo from the BBC. Naughty. Also, to be honest there isn’t actually a specific section related to the writing and making of a speech on Groom 411 (“Previously on Groom 411!”), but I’ve included it here so I could shoehorn in my somewhat pathetic analogy relating to an emergency service TV show. Sorry.

  • Groom 411

Staggered

Now this is a bit more like it. Coming from a web design background, I can certainly appreciate the consistency and style this website possesses, and it’s literally jam-packed with all sorts of fantastic info. For example, there are ideas for organising the honeymoon, an article about wedding sex (which I haven’t read, honest. Ahem), and most importantly there’s a whole section dedicated to writing a speech. Phew.

The Groomslist

Another excellent groom resource, and the main headline that particularly grabbed my attention was, “Kanye West Is An Involved Groom – Are you?” The article also says, “Kanye Is Also Completely Doolally Bonkers, And That’s Why We Love Him!”*, which is fine by me.

*It doesn’t really.

Backlighting the first dance with flash

Alicia Hotel Liverpool Wedding Photography

At the recent wedding of Sarah and Gareth in Liverpool I decided to try a new technique that I’d seen other photographers do, but had never attempted myself (after all, a wedding is surely the best time to start experimenting with a new technique that you’ve never done before, and one that has the capacity to go completely tits up. Isn’t it? Gulp.)

The technique in question is backlighting the bride and groom for the first dance, to create an attractive rim light around the couple, instead of firing the flash (modified or otherwise) straight at them. At the top of the page is an example of this technique.

It’s a fairly straightforward technique, if truth be told. The ambient light in the room at the time was pretty much non-existent, so I worked with a shutter speed and aperture I was comfortable with and within my maximum sync speed, and adjusted flash power manually to taste (none of this swanky TTL malarkey here, oh no). Out of interest, the exposure settings for all the following photographs were as follows: f4, ISO3200, 1/200s, 85mm.

As for the flash, I placed a solitary unmodified speedlight on a flash stand shoulder height, and around 10-12 feet behind the couple. I then manually (phew, hardcore eh?) set it to 1/32 power and fired it using a wireless trigger. And Bob’s your Dad’s brother.

Of course, the couple have to be directly in the line of sight between your camera and the flash, otherwise things can go a bit Pete Tong (also notice incorrect sync speed in this photo, resulting in black band along the bottom. Naughty photographer.)

Backlighting the first wedding dance with flash

However, when you get it right magic ensues. Here are a couple of other examples from the same wedding:

Why is Wedding Photography Important?

True Value of Wedding Photography

This is probably the most personal post I’ve ever written, and was inspired by Kathleen Trenske’s excellent article, “The Case Against Good Enough“, in which she extols the virtues of owning physical copies of your wedding photography, instead of allowing them to languish on a disc tucked away in a dusty draw. I recently saw the fantastic Jerry Ghionis at the SWPP convention back in January, and he echoed those sentiments by saying, “If your house was on fire, would you rush back in screaming, ‘Oh my God, we need to save our wedding jpegs!’ Of course you wouldn’t – whereas your wedding album would be one of the first items you’d rescue.”

And he’s right. Of course, some couples request a disc-only package  because they intend to print out the photographs themselves, either individually or as an album. Or they may come back in a year or so and ask me to design an album of their images for them, which is great. As wonderful as it is to be able to view your photos on a computer, laptop, iPad or smartphone, you simply can’t beat holding and connecting with an actual printed photograph.

Which brings me neatly to the crux of this article. My parents Pat and Alan celebrate their 50th wedding anniversary this year, which is an absolutely incredible achievement. They also have physical copies of their photographs, taken by a Colchester wedding photographer (whose name I can’t recall but will find out) and they’re kept in a small card box. They still look as if they were printed yesterday, such is the love they’ve been afforded over the years.

Looking at them now, the true value of them shines through. There are photos of family members that are sadly no longer with us – most notably, my mother’s parents Bob and Violet, her sister Maureen, my father’s parents Albert and Hilda and my Dad’s brother Mick. In other words, everyone in that main photo except my parents.

It seems strange looking at this photograph now, knowing they’re no longer here. However, this image will always be a reminder of them, and as a result they’ll always be with us in our hearts.

10 Amazing Wedding Venues

Kings Chapel Amersham Buckinghamshire Wedding Photography

(That I’d Like to Photograph!)

Today I’d like to blog about fantasies (not those kind, you saucy lot…!) but wedding venue fantasies. Amazing locations, sweeping vistas, breathtaking spaces…basically, any location where getting married would be an absolute dream come true. A couple of years ago I was lucky enough to photograph a wedding at the amazing Leez Priory, but with all due respect to that venue, these following locations are a league apart. So let us begin…

Natural History Museum, London

As a child, my folks used to take my brother and I on day trips to London. We’d do all the touristy things – visit Buckingham Palace, Madame Taussauds and the London Dungeon…however, there was one venue that was always a real treat to explore, and that place was the Natural History Museum. When I visit now I feel very excited about the amazing architecture and venue as a whole (take a look at one of my favourite architectural photographs to see how magnificent the Central Hall is), but as a kid it was all about the dinosaurs. Or rather the unbelievably massive “Dippy” the Diplodocus skeleton. How cool would it be to have your wedding reception overseen by one of the largest mammals ever to walk the earth? Yes, very.

San Francisco City Hall

I confess I’ve never been to San Francisco, but judging by the grandeur of these interior photographs of the City Hall, I think that I’d rather like to…

St Paul’s Cathedral

What an amazing venue, and the cathedral where Charles and Diana were married. if you’d like to get married there, you need to (and I quote from the St Paul’s Cathedral website) -“be a members of the Order of St Michael and St George, the Order of the British Empire, holders of the British Empire Medal,  members of the Imperial Society of Knights Bachelor and their children (but not grandchildren).”

That clears that up then, eh?

Santorini, Greece

A few years ago I visited Santorini, and it’s absolutely breathtaking. Most adverts and TV programmes that depict  the white buildings with the coloured roofs are all filmed in Santorini. If you get married or spend your honeymoon there, be sure to visit Oia to witness the sunset. Beautiful.

Claridges, London

It’s one of the most prestigious hotels in London, if not the world, so who wouldn’t want to get married there? (well, anyone whose budget is less than the GDP of a small country, but we can all dream…!)

Scrub Island, British Virgin Islands

You know the rubbish, miserable and downright depressing weather we’re having in the UK at the moment? How about forgetting all your cares, maxing out your credit card* and getting married on the British Virgin Islands?

*(I assume no responsibility for any dubious financial advice administered on this site…!)

Historical Gothic Palace, Venice, Italy

I went to Venice a few years ago with my girlfriend. At first it’s completely overwhelming – so much staggeringly gorgeous architecture, all tightly-packed within a small area, that it literally befuddles your head. So much beauty, so little time. However, after a cappucino / Peroni or two and a few deep breaths, you can begin to digest just how spectacular this place is. Within 30 minutes we’d visited the chapel where Vivaldi first performed The Four Seasons, a hotel where Tchaikovsky used to stay, as well as being charged around £12 for a pint of beer (be VERY careful where you go to eat and drink!)

We didn’t get to see the Historical Gothic Palace, but just look at it. Makes my eyes water, in a good way.

Chateau de Challain, France

Ah, France. The country of romance, exquisite cuisine, and Zinedine Zidane, one of the finest footballers ever to grace the planet. They also have some absolutely spectacular wedding venues, if the Chateau de Challain is anything to go by…

Painted Hall, Greenwich, London

Words fail me. Simply look at the stunning painting and architecture (designed by Sir Christopher Wren and Nicholas Hawksmoor, fact fans), and imagine walking down the aisle here….sigh.

Dulwich College Great Hall, London

I thought I’d end with a venue that’s literally just down the road from me; if anyone out there is getting married there (or would like to get married there), then hire me as you’ll save on my transport costs! (I’m kidding…) I’ve walked past Dulwich College on a number of occasions, and it’s spectacular on the outside (and even more spectacular on the inside, judging by the photo above…)

Kids + Weddings = Fun!

East Dulwich Tavern London Wedding Photography

To coin a somewhat well-worn cliché, kids do the funniest things, and at weddings, they do the even-funnier things! As a photographer, it’s relatively easy to direct the bride and guests, asking them to pose and to guide them, all in the name of capturing beautiful images.

But with kids? Forget it.

Best to just let them get on with it, make sure the eyes in the back of your head are working, and never take those eyes and your camera off them for a second!

Here are some of my favourite images of kids being little tinkers at weddings I’ve photographed. I hope you enjoy them!

Shooting Winter Weddings Workshop

Shooting Winter Weddings Workshop

We all need to keep learning, right? No matter how good we think we are, there’s always room for improvement, and when a chance to learn from two of the best in the wedding photography business looms on the horizon, we’d be fools not to grab it with both hands.

Speaking of which, yesterday I had the pleasure to attend the Shooting Winter Weddings Workshop in Stonehouse, Gloucestershire with renowned wedding photographers Damien and Julie Lovegrove. Together they’ve photographed over 350 weddings, as well as releasing a book and a number of DVDs, so it’s safe to assume they have a pretty good idea what they’re talking about..!

The basic premise of the workshop was to demonstrate how to take (hopefully) fantastic photographs throughout the course of a wedding, often with very little light to work with. To quote from the official blurb, “This workshop is designed to give wedding photographers the confidence and skills to take beautiful images that the client will love. Simple, repeatable techniques are taught to provide you with all the necessary skills to take your wedding photography further.”

The day was divided up into three sections – the bride and groom getting ready, pre-ceremony portraits of the bride and groom, and finally shots of the ceremony and the couple together immediately after the ceremony. As a bonus, the day ended with Damien talking about lighting solutions for weddings, and Julie covered the psychology of a wedding shoot, from meeting the couple, arranging the flow of the day with them and so on.

What struck me most of all during the workshop was how possible it was to capture fabulous images in extremely low-light conditions using very low shutter speeds! For example, two scenarios spring to mind; the first was a shot of the bride Sarah in one of the corridors of the hotel against some beautiful wood panelling, where there was seemingly no usable light except for a splash coming through from a window opposite. Previously I’d have disregarded the location, and would have deemed it too dark to capture a usable image. How wrong I was…using a monopod, high ISOs, low shutter speeds (sometimes as low as 1/15 and occasionally 1/10…shudder…) and overexposing by +1EV on this occasion, it was entirely possible.

The other seemingly unusable location was under some trees just by the church. By this time the heavens had opened and the sky was bleak and angry, so the group looked at each other when Damien led us all under some trees where there was even less light. Again, using a monopod, a slow shutter speed, high ISO and overexposure, we all managed to capture an image that the couple would adore.

I’ve read numerous wedding photography / processing articles where the author warns against blowing the highlights and retaining all the detail in the bride’s dress. Julie was happy to dispel this myth, if it meant capturing some wonderful images. Damien emphasised this point by stating that all the shots should look like they were shot on a sunny day. After all, the couple hardly want to look back at their wedding photos and remember that it was tipping it down on their special day!

As you’ve probably guessed, I’d thoroughly recommend the workshop. It’s set in a beautiful location, Damien and Julie were extremely friendly, approachable and happy to help and assist along the way, the couple Alex and Sarah were extremely professional, and I came away with a renewed sense of optimism, enthusiasm and most of all, inspiration.

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