Category Archives: Photographs

The Wedding Day

And so the day of the wedding arrived.

I’ve already said a lot about our plans, but here are some extra details the day itself. Often unplanned details…

We had ordered breakfast to our room the night before, so that we could have a delicious feast and soon-to-be husband and wife in our dressing gowns, rather than dressing, dining with others, then returning to our room to change! …Perhaps it works for afternoon weddings, but for a morning wedding, it just seems silly! We had toast and jams, poached eggs, fruit, and a small pile of pastries which we devoured. It was an impressive breakfast!

Then we started getting ready. I had washed my hair the night before after swimming, but Guy showered and used Vanilla Vanilla body wash (as he doesn’t wear scent. I wore my usual scent, CK’s ‘Eternity Moment’, because I thought it was important to wear my signiature smell on my wedding day!).

He also made sure to give himself a good, close shave. This was something he had put a lot of thought into, because he wanted his face to be perfectly smooth. He’d picked up some tips for following the grain of the hairs on Groom Power (which also warned him not to leave any polish on his shoes before he danced with a woman in a white dress!). So, a few pratices, a nice new razor, and a little bit of advice from – stranegly enough – Neil Gaiman‘s blog, worked the trick (for those of you who are curious, I suggest you hunt out the reference yourself!).

First, Karina, our photographer, turned up, and took some artistic pictures of our wedding outfits before we put them on.

And soon after my mum turned up – with bubbly and cassis – and began attacking my hair whilst I was still doing my makeup.

Then my uncle turned up – and started photographing us!

And then Caz turned up for Guy! She whisked him away for his steadying pint, and he went outside before putting on his jacket and waistcoat so that I wouldn’t see him all prettied up. By this point, I was still in my dressing gown.

Finally James turned up. My mum whisked off back to her room, and he had to zip me up! And then he left with our case to join the taxi group up to the Town Hall and I went back to lure out my mother.

Walking through the hotel, an elderly couple crossed our path and realised that I was a bride, despite the blue dress. They wished us the best of luck (then said we shouldn’t need it) and we continued on our way, weaving crazily through a very complicated hotel layout until we found ourselves in the foyer. Our rickshaw was early and already waiting!

We arrived at the Town Hall in good time and picked up our flowers. Actually my mum got given Guy’s buttonhole, and my granddad didn’t get one so they swapped halfway through the reception! The ushers were a bit rushed off their feet – but you wouldn’t know it seeing the ceremony room!

Guy was, of course, in the ceremony room by then, and I had to go to see the registrars. Several people saw me on the way in and gave me the nod – as if it were a bit cheeky for them to notice the bride before the ceremony. Brian was striding backwards and forwards across the stairwell rehearsing his reading.

I went in to see the registrars with my mum and best man, but both quickly vanished to other tasks. I think my mum had a mini meltdown, but she was back to escort me down the aisle in no time. The chat with the registrars was very straightforward and quick, so mostly I just sat there waiting. They asked me to confirm some basic details and then asked what I was going to write when I signed my name. I was a bit confused and tried to describe my signiature…! It turned out they just wanted to check that I knew to sign my maiden name.

I’ve already covered the ceremony, so I’ll skip to after it finished.

Guy and I stood outside (me shaking) hugging people and shaking hands as they all filed out. It was great to talk to everyone and be able to look them in the eye without freaking out this time! Somewhere about now, I was told that my necklace catch had slipped round to the front (I adjusted it) and that the lemon layer of the cake was collapsing (I asked them to remove the top layers and leavethe rest out for us to cut – you’re supposed to cut the bottom layer anyway!). So much for big disasters!

Everyone assembled on the steps and we came out and got bombarded with confetti. A lot of the boys were really keen to mob Guy!

Then we took the rickshaws over to Somerville for photographs and drinks! We got cheered by a group on the way there and another on the return, not to mention the people standing staring at the town hall. It felt bizarre, like we were on stage or something – and the smart clothes we were wearing seemed out of place in the middle of a busy city filled with ordinarily clad strangers!

The drinks reception steadied me a bit. And we also got a nice surprise – a flypast! It was a lucky coincidence, as we were only outside for a couple of hours, but it came directly overhead and people took photographs!

‘Our’ flypast:

Before we left Somerville, Guy and I shared our first moment alone together as husband and wife! But if you think it was a romantic one, you will be amused… We were due to get the last rickshaw out, so we lingered in the quad as everyone was going. Then we had an idea – we would be busy at the reception and may not get chance to pop to the loo! So we scurried into the Somerville toilets whilst we had the chance, meeting again between the men’s and ladies and then wandering out through the college together (luckily my dress did not require assistance: I only buy clothes I could climb a tree in). Yes, that was our first time alone together as marrieds!

Back at the reception, James announced us in his loud teacher voice, and we all happily tucked into our starters before the speeches (by then it was about 2.30, not that I was wearing my watch). My granddad did a nice speech, welcoming everybody to the event and then beginning, “I first met Rowena when she was 1 day old…” and including a story about me as a baby getting very excited about a gang of rough-looking hairy bikers. He managed to knock over some wine and call Guy ‘Clive’ once, but nobody minded!

Caz did a great best woman’s speech. She didn’t actually tell any embarrassing stories about Guy, but kept hinting that she was going to! Afterwards, she was definitely relieved that the speechmaking was over and she could enjoy her food.

Guy’s speech was a mishmash of parts of the proposal and relationship stories, with a few references in it just for me. He spent the entire speech bending over his chair and squeezing the back of it with his hands – I think he was nervous!

Then I said a couple of words and Guy and I did the thank yous together.

We actually called the caterers out to thank them, which apparently was appreciated and few people do – although they did point out to us that we hadn’t eaten most ofthe food yet, so our thank yous were a little bit premature!

Here are Guy’s parents’ faces after he revealed that I had named them the “sanest people” helping us with the wedding!

James didn’t make an official speech, but introduced them and recorded them on a little dictaphone I gave him. However, at the end of the reception, he decided to make an impromptu speech about how proud he was and how difficult he thought I would be to match, yet how perfect Guy was for me…

The reception food was amazing. I made sure to ‘share’ some of my vegetarian with Guy, but I was still massive when we finished. The caterers asked me if I would like a bit of all four layers of cake – yes please! – and the same for my “new husband” – so dessert wasn’t exactly dainty either. And a large slab of the rum cake went into our bag for the honeymoon along with the bag of cards the ushers brought us, the guest book and Cathy’s cork.

The Jaguar Royale was a little late, but it was worth it to see it sweep up and turn around in the road (cue more staring from strangers!). I put on my going away jacket and we jumped in (my mum was so enthusiastic about hugging us that she nearly came too!).

Then we waved our goodbyes and drove out of Oxford with the evening air rushing past us. We didn’t notice that we’d never had seat belts on until hours later!



We always knew who our photographer would be. Not long after we’d got together, Guy had been to his first wedding, that of a couple of friends. And their photographer had been very known to him – none other than his “wifey”.

Karina is a semi-professional photographer; recently she completed a 365 day challenge, to take, edit and upload an interesting picture every day for a year. I really like her style because the art is in the picture that has been taken, the way it’s framed and the moment she has captured: not in extreme lighting conditions, set-up poses or discolourations – I suppose I see these kinds of photography art as “dishonest”. I want our pictures to show, to their best, the things that were actually there as they naturally were. I don’t want a faux personality represented by twee little cutesy poses, or a semantic field of import introduced through fading at the edges of the picture or that bloody vintage summer garden theme photography style, where everything is slightly faded and yellowish, as though I am squinting at the picture through a cloud of mustard gas.

Now, don’t get me wrong – I do like some experimentation. And to prove it, here are a bunch of “experimental” photographs which I do like.

Colour selectivity. I unashamedly love this, but of course, with things in colour scheme, it works really well to pick out the details. This picture is printed pretty big in our album.

Sepia. Turns out I don’t like black and white, but sepia is lovely, and Guy agrees. For me, black and white makes the freckles seem darker and thus me look blotchy, but sepia has a softer effect (and Karina knows this from trial images she sent us). Guy also got us a lovely sepia picture of our cat to hang above her dinner bowl. This picture is also big in the album, but mostly because it’s so funny, not because of the sepia. The very silly gentleman pictured above is Guy’s father, and the amused comrade Guy’s mother.

A photograph within a photograph. This is one of several Karina took of the kind, but this one is the best. We really like the idea, but only want to include one in the album because too much is too much.

This is obviously posed – but when we had trial pictures with Karina we explored potential poses and decided as a rule, we didn’t like, but there were a couple of poses we did want because they were “us” – this being one of them.

My uncle took lots of pictures of this kind too. It’s the figurehead on the car, if you’re unsure. Of course, I want lots of photographs of details, but it would never have occurred to me to take photographs of details on a car when you’re not at a car museum or showhouse. However, I like it for the picture’s own sake, and we’re having one in the album.

Again, posed, and probably not going in the album, but it’s not like the headless images I have seen and disliked – because of the bag. A close up of my bag or of Guy’s hands would probably have worked better for me, but I see this picture as putting together the two elements. There are, of course, plenty of close ups of part of my dress.

As a rule, I don’t like “that picture where everyone sticks their shoe in”. I don’t get it. I don’t even like shoes and I don’t know why you’d want pictures of people’s feet rather than, say, their hands or something. I mean hands say something about you; feet say something about your shopping. But I do like this one shoe picture that Karina took at our wedding (though not enough to put it in our album) – for a very particular reason.

When we had planned to have Karina doing the photographs, Guy and I looked through all the pictures she took at the last wedding – several times. At the wedding, the bride did like shoes, and wanted “that shoe picture” with her preparation photos, which obviously ended up as a few images. So I turned throuh a few sets of gracefully poised shoe pictures and rather commended her choice. So I remembered them.

Well, guess what shoes she wore to our wedding?

And I’m so pleased, not only that she found a place to wear them again, but that I noticed!

Of course, if you’re asking a friend to take the snaps, there’s a lot more to consider than simply whether you like their style, as I’ve discussed previously in my blog. However, the mark of a good photographer is someone who discusses this with you in the first place. Karina discussed our venues with us, and the lighting conditions. Luckily, my obsession with optimising natural lighting conditions in the Town Hall was exactly what she was hoping for.

In order to get an idea what photos we wanted, she encouraged us to look through her website and then gave us a photo trial at Somerville. She experimented with some different styles and then put up the pictures so that we could give her feedback. I think this was really helpful for confidence on the day.

To make everything as straightforward as possible, Guy emailed Karina a ‘Who’s Who’ with pictures of members of our family and the wedding party. I recommend doing this as it makes things so much easier for them, and I have heard horror stories about albums being received from very professional photographers filled with pictures of +1s with key family members missing entirely. We also gave her the list of groups we’d provided the ushers with, although we made it clear that that was just a guideline, or ideas, not a regimented programme!

We had a look at the kind of photography out there and decided that we didn’t want “getting ready” pictures, or pictures of shoes or anything, though we did have pictures of the dress and suit hanging in the bed frame. However, in the end, my uncle turned up with his camera whilst I was getting ready and took those pictures anyway! But, because we didn’t have them officially done, I didn’t feel obliged to like them (I look pretty freakish with half my makeup on and half not) and was quite happy choosing one as a “representative” of that time to put in the album.

Kevin actually took about as many photographs as Karina, in all, and I felt they complemented each other well, catching moments from different angles or different moments (for example, my uncle didn’t take photographs during the ceremony, but he took the morning pictures and lots of the rickshaws). I also really liked his version of the picture of my hat in the morning.

This is my uncle, with my aunt, Gill.

Structure and Timings

Circumstances thus prevailed that in the last summer of Oxford, the opportunity arose for the best kind of wedding research – another wedding! We were quite excited to go along, especially since we’d each only been to one wedding before, and I made sure to note all the little details and especially the pattern of the day, since Guy and I had really very little idea of the structure of a wedding.

It was a great day. One thing we did note, however, was the importance of organisation. The ushers need to know exactly what they’re doing and how the day will pan out so that they can provide support to you and your guests throughout it. What is more, buying matching ties/buttonholes/other items for the ushers is very important because it allows guests to identify them to ask questions.

I am a very organised person, and I was determined that our wedding day would live up to my high expectations. So we decided to tackle the issue with military organisation.

In their wedding album, Guy’s parents have a copy of the Op Order his dad wrote for his ushers and best man team (all friends from the army). We had absolutely loved this, and so decided to have some fun too. Each of the ushers and our best man and woman were given an instructions pack, indicating their roles and responsibilities chronologically throughout the day as gauged in mock-military tone. The pack included

– Step by step instructions for the day with initials/job roles to indicate who did what
– A contacts sheet, which contained the numbers for each other (with their names and roles) and of important contacts on the day: the florist, the Town Hall, Somerville, the rickshaws, the car hire company and the caterers.
– A list of the formal photographs we wanted with the groups arranged in a sensible order (Guy thought stripping people away would be easier than adding them in) for people to be gathered (do note to define terms though: we used “wedding party” to mean something similar to “bridal party” (i.e. all the ushers and best people) and some thought we meant everybody – every single guest. Oops).
– A quick guide to setting up the cake stand for Cecily (pretty simple, but you never know).

The pack contents were printed nicely on our wedding paper and handed out in plastic wallets (in case it rained) with the owner’s name on it (to avoid fights).

Not everything was done military style though! We produced non-military Orders of Celebration (neither of us liked the term ‘Order of Day’ – I thought it sounded German and Guy thought it sounded military) outlining the breakdown of the ceremony and then the various other components of the day so that the guests would have a clue what was happening and when. We printed enough for just over one between two and I think they were mostly snaffled as keepsakes.

And now I come to the other important thing we had learnt about weddings – don’t abandon your guests!

A lot of people are not familiar with the wedding location, so unless you have a church literally across the road from your reception venue, they will often need a bit of help. We did provide a map in the invitations, but felt it was important to go that bit further. If the venues had been far apart and parking was available, we might have organised car pooling, but as it was, Somerville is only a 15 minute walk from the Town Hall – in a dead straight line. So instead we arranged for ushers to guide the walkers and provided transport for a few people, with priority to ourselves, people we needed and elderly relatives.

And really, it’s a bit silly to hire pretty vintage cars for a 15 minute walk – they can get very expensive!

So we hired rickshaws.

The parasol you see here only got put up for the rickshaw rides, but I’m so glad I bought it (even hunting high and low for the off-white my mum insisted upon to match my dress and hat – which are different off whites from each other anyway). As we moved through town I had this big white orb around me and people recognised that we were a wedding party and cheered! It was lovely!

Some of the best rickshaw pictures were taken by my uncle Kevin, for our photographer was needed at Somerville to start taking the formal shots and spent much of the time we spent in a rickshaw in one herself. Kevin seems to have been very excited about the rickshaws and I have chains of second by second shots of them on their way.

We also used a rickshaw to transport my mum and me to the ceremony in the morning. I get carsick and hated the idea of getting into a taxi with a roof when I was nervous, so this was an extremely fun alternative!

The rickshaws were supplied by oxoncarts. Initially we had a lot of trouble getting hold of them (the only way to get an intial response is to leave an answer machine message – something neither of us like to do!), so I was very nervous about them being unprofessional and not turning up on time, especially for the morning journey. However, they were absolutely fine and in very good time on both occasions; we ended up leaving for the Town Hall a bit early because he was there waiting and I had to manoeuvre my mother away from another coffee (which would have got left or made us late)!

Today, I’m Looking at…

My grandparents’ wedding:

The Wedding Affair

“The Wedding Affair” keeps popping up on facebook, and I have to say I’m not entirely sure what it is.

But it has pretty pictures.

Their description says,

Designer Wedding Fairs in the most exceptional, historical and beautiful venues in Yorkshire. Specialising in creating beautiful weddings that fuse style, individuality and fun

And one of my friends has liked them, so I assume they’re alright.

This isn’t an advertisement for them, but I want to share some of the pictures I found on their site, as they are quite inspirational, and feel that it is proper to link you to their source and explain how I came about them. I also think their name is pretty cool.

I’m not especially into pictures of brides or venues, but these ones caught my eye as stunners:

It’s not the dress or the bridal-ness, but the girl herself who catches my eye. The picture is deep. It’s not unhappy, but it’s not celebratory. It’s patient. It’s a picture about waiting. I love that.

More in my line of things, there is also THIS picture:

Which I love because it’s a car kind of like ours, and it makes me think about photos with the car, and climbing on the car for photos (I’ve seen a few brides doing this and it’s awesome – and I love climbing!). Maybe I will have to be good and do something more like “leaning”, but it won’t be the shoes or the dress which stop me (another plus on the non-white bridal gown).

And… pretty suits!

I also think this is hilarious. It’s like she has a big white disc stuck in the back of her head.

My final “oooh look” image is this one:

I thought it might be inspirational for decor – not just for brides and grooms, but also for those running wedding events. If I saw a stall like this, I would definitely want to go over and talk. The diffrences in heights, the non-pink colour scheme with the bizarre Cath Kidson touch is intriguing. They also seem to have so MUCH. And mirrors, frames, lamps and candles are very popular wedding decor, so the whole effect is very much “We do what you want” rather than “You want what we do”. It’s attractive. And I still want ideas for something tall on my ceremony table.

On the other hand, the picture is a bit grey and naff. I’m quite aware that semi greyed out photos are really popular at the moment, especially for outdoors American weddings, and I hate it. I think it looks like you’re trying to make your photographs worn out and crappy looking. Like your photographer couldn’t handle the lighting conditions.

Worse, I find myself squinting at photos like this (again from the Wedding Affair):

It reminds me of deep fog, or the evening, during that grey period between day and dusk, when everything starts to lose it’s colour and become difficult to see, but there is still light. I feel I am being forced not to see, something is concealed, that there is orange dust everywhere and I need to wash. I wish people would stop proudly posting these kinds of images as a new trend in photography. I don’t want to squint at my wedding photographs!

And here’s another photo I didn’t like. I just found the skin colour contrast… disturbing.

Reblog the Trash

I think it’s a bit lazy to reblog somebody else’s post, but I also like to share things I have found interesting and enjoyable.

I found this Trash the Dress post on a blog recently, and rather liked it.

Mostly I’m not fond of trash the dress photo shoots. I think the whole Boudoir-Engagement-Wedding-Trash photo fad is an excuse to make money out of people and if you like one extra bit, fine, but there should be a stopping point, and unless you’re mad about photography, I think going for all of them is excessive.

We had an engagement shoot. Really it was a practice shoot to make sure our photographer was happy with the location and the lighting and everything, but we get some lovely pictures to keep.

I also think that there’s a controvery with boudoir and trash the dress shoots in that a lot of people don’t seem to have a clear idea what the aim is, what the art is – they just want lots of pretty pictures of themselves and to feel that they’ve done everything properly.

The post I reblogged I like because it is ART. Some of the pictures I like more than others.

I think there’s nothing more beuatiful than the combination of nature and fallapart manmade things, like ruins and rundown warehouses or a rusty wheel abandonned in a field. It tells a story.

If there’s a girl in a picture, I want to find myself asking, “Who is She?” If there’s a man and a woman, I want to wonder how they met, whether they’re in love, whether they are a brother and sister, whether one owes the other something that they haven’t told. It can be cheerful and beautiful, but it should also be deep and moving, so that it lingers behind even after you have drawn your eyes away.

I don’t get that from a picture of someone swimming underwater in a wedding dress. Or covered in mud or paint, as a lot of trash the dress shoots do. These I tend to feel are more about doing the trashing than doing the photos (so why pay someone to do professional photos?) – more about the relief of, after being perfect for a day, really letting loose, sodding the expense and just having a good time. Which is what I think the wedding reception should achieve, and if it doesn’t, fails.

(not that I think you should aim to trash your dress at a wedding reception, but I feel that you should be able to dance drunkenly, gorge yourself on cake and burp loudly if you need to – afterall, you’re married now!)

One bride from the forum calling herself If4ct decided to share pictures from her trash the dress with a horse shoot. The beautiful thing here was that it was also a learning experience for the photographer on how to picture a horse well. The project was about sharing the excitement of the wedding and her enthusiasm for horseriding. It’s an exploration in art and experiences.

These photos are from Dream Day Photography.

In the end, it all depends on taste, but I think in the case of some trash the dress shoots the parties have got carried away with “that’s what you do” rather than assessed what they really hope to get out of the exercise and what kinds of pictures really do it for them. I find cherish the dress shoots even more frustrating, and don’t even get me started on boudoir shoots! I will merely direct you to this very sane and opinionated discussion and throw this quote from the comments out there:

[H]ere’s the thing – I’d never have bought a boudoir shoot, but I won in a general contest (I’d have preferred a free full-photo package for the wedding, but oh well.) So, since I have this free session I thought I may as well have fun with it. But it’s hard to figure out the fun when it’s this weird bridal THING now.

I hate what I see in most boudoir stuff around the weddingweb (and I hate that it’s so public, ick), and I hate hate HATE the idea of boudoir FOR men (which is what I tried to say, ish) but I like the IDEA of boudoir-for-self. And I like the idea of playing with style and clothes and makeup without screaming LINGERIE AND CHEAP SEX AND SEXYFACE PHOTOS. But trying to get at that cool “self” part and not the engagement-y bridal beast part of it is hard.

And you may also like to give this thread a read (if you’re going to read it, read all of it).