Whether it’s an engagement session with your wedding photography package, or you’ve booked a romantic couple shoot to celebrate an anniversary, there’s some ways you can maximise your session for some absolutely amazing photos.
Get the Best Light
This is probably the first bit to consider – when do you want your session. During the summer, most people automatically opt for the middle of the day, when the sun is at its brightest. It makes sense, but it’s not actually the best time of day for photos. Getting good light isn’t about how strong it is, but how soft it is. Strong direct light tends to make people squint a lot more, and it casts a lot of shadows. The best time of day is the fabled golden hour – usually, a couple of hours before sunset when the sun is at its lowest, the light is softer and more flattering. It smoothes out the skin, there’s a warmth to it that flatters skin tones, and you’ll avoid squinting. It usually results in lovely skyscapes behind you too.
Dress For A Date
I often have couples ask me what they should wear to a session. I prefer not to be overly prescriptive, but some simple tips I would suggest: Avoid logos or branding – it dates the images instantly, as logos drift in and out of fashion. It also diverts attention away from everything else and straight onto the logo. Find a similar palette – If you’re coming together it makes sense to dress in colours that work well together, so look out for things that you both like. Mix colours and shades and try and avoid dressing in a single colour, eg. black. Dress for a date – depending on what you’re doing together for your session, dressing in clothes that you feel good in will make a massive difference! So dig out those jeans you love, put on those boots that make you walk a little taller, pop on your favourite hat or scarf. How you feel inside will translate quickly into how you appear on the outside.
Find the Location
Local parks are often a popular destination for a couple session. But if you’re looking for something slightly different, there are lots of exciting and interesting places you can explore. For example, how about a forest by a loch? Maybe a waterfall? A quiet secluded beach? a picturesque coastal town? A hillside with stunning scenery? These are some of the gorgeous locations all within an hour of Glasgow that I’ve visited before, and can happily recommend if you’re looking for suggestions.
If so, then it’s always a good idea to be prepared for countryside weddings. I’ve put together this must-have list of things to pack for your outdoor wedding. These are some brilliant little tips I’ve learned from having photographed plenty of weddings in the Scottish countryside.
It’s also a good idea to remind guests to be prepared – either include a note with your invite or on your wedding website.
This really is a must have, particularly in late spring/ summer.
If you’re planning a wedding in Scotland, then Smidge will spare your wedding guests from being the main course for the Scottish midgies. Avon Skin So Soft is also popular, but personally I use Smidge while photographing a countrside wedding. It’s relatively easy to find in most Scottish outdoor shops, or you can also buy it down online.
It’s a great idea to buy a few bottles and pop them into your wedding toiletry hamper at your wedding. You can also remind guests to come prepared – particularly if they’re coming from overseas.
2. Sun Lotion
Having a few bottles of sun lotion in a bathroom hamper is a brilliant inclusion for any summer wedding. Many people underestimate the intensity of the sun, so a few bottles of SPF can prevent them from turning red on the day. If you’re inviting children or babies, you could include some children or baby sun lotions, which usually have a higher SPF and are more suited to sensitive younger skin.
Although I always take a few brollies with me to weddings, I certainly don’t have enough for the entire wedding party! Since Scottish weather can be quite changeable even in summer, then it’s a good idea to have some umbrellas to hand. Even a light drizzle can be enough to put people off moving out from a dry location and can cause significant timeline delays. Either remind guests to bring their own umbrella, or maybe buy some for your bridal party.
You could invest in white or ivory umbrellas, or opt for umbrellas in your signature wedding colour. Clear birdcage style brollies are popular for people who want to preserve their hairstyle from a fine mist of drizzle. Alternatively, you can hire umbrellas – either for your bridal party or for all your guests to borrow – from Brolly Bucket. This is a great way to avoid then having to sell loads of umbrellas online after your day. It also means you can avoid that “Wedding sponsored by X Company LTD” when everyone whips out a branded golf umbrella!
4. Stormproof Matches/ Barbecue Lighter
I have to admit, this is something most couples forget when they’re planning on bringing the sparklers to their wedding! Inevitably, it means we have to find a smoker in the wedding party, and with the increased popularity of vaping, this is becoming increasingly rare.
If you fancy a sparkler photo, then don’t forget to buy a couple of boxes of stormproof matches or barbecue lighters. This will help your wedding party light those sparklers all at the same time. Otherwise you risk having half of your sparklers fizzling out before they’re all lit.
5. Heel Stoppers
If you’re planning on getting married somewhere with a lawn, it’s worth investing in some of these little magic inventions for your bridal party. They slip on over the bottom of high heels and stop heels from sinking into the grass. Even after a few dry days, pointy heels can still end up aerating the lawn, resulting in mucky shoes, or people losing their balance.
I think these are as much a must have for wedding shoes as gel blister protectors, but often end up forgotten about. They’re also excellent if you’re walking over gratings at older buildings (for example in some churches). They’re fairly cheap too, so would make an excellent little gift for those in your wedding party wearing heels.
6. Wellies/ Trainers/ Hiking Boots
While you may have found the perfect wedding shoes, they aren’t always the most practical choice for adventure photographs. A lot of couples want to enjoy those lovely adventure seeking nature photographs. This might include going along little tracks or trails, walking for a while, or even going up a hillside to achieve spectacular results.
If you’re after photographs that involve adventuring off the beaten tarmac, then it’s worth packing some suitable footwear. Wellies, old trainers, or hiking boots are great for photos that might involve a bit of exploring! It doesn’t matter if it doesn’t match your elegant look in the photos, as it’s not the first thing you notice in those spectacular adventure photos! Some couples even customise their footwear, or buy wellies in a colour that matches their wedding.
7. Blankets/ Shawls
I went to a wedding recently, in late June, where the couple provided guests with lots of blankets. While it was hot and sunny throughout the day, there was a cool breeze in the evening. The guests all reached for a blanket and were able to enjoy being outdoors in the evening. Otherwise you can expect them all to be huddled around inside while your venue change your room around for the evening activities.
Blankets are wonderful t encourage guests to go outside in the evening, for example for outdoor activities or a fire-pit. Blankets are also a must have if you plan on having hay bales. Again, you can hire blankets from Brolly Bucket if you don’t want to end up having to source and resell your own blanket stash.
Shawls or pashminas are a lovely bridal party accessory when teamed with a sleeveless dress. A cute pashmina set off with a brooch or buttonhole can keep the bridal party snug while having photographs taken.
I hope you find these tips useful and give you ideas for your amazing rural outdoor wedding. If you’re planning on having an outdoor wedding somewhere in the Scottish countryside, then I’d love to hear from you!
Why Excluding Scottish Wedding Suppliers from Guest Numbers Can Make a Difference
Question: If you wanted to ensure a job was completed in a way that minimised health and safety risks, would you:
a. Do whatever you could to make sure that the people hired were the most experienced and skilled for the job with the right equipment; b. Not do anything and allow Uncle Bob to do it, even though he’s got no previous experience or appropriate equipment?
The answer may seem obvious, but at the moment it seems the Scottish Government is firmly behind option b.
I’m talking about weddings (again)
This time, I’m talking about suppliers being included in the guest numbers. At present, guest numbers sit at 50 (including the couple) and that also includes any suppliers not employed by the venue or caterers. It’s including evening bands, bands who play music in the background (string quartets for example), it’s including Master of Ceremonies, DJs, and of course, your humble photographers and videographers.
For some reason there’s a logic that suppliers have to be included in the guest numbers to minimise risk of infection. I should point out that Scotland is alone in this logic – from my research, there isn’t another country in the world that shares this approach.
The downside is that couples are forced to choose: do they want a relative or friend that they haven’t seen in probably a year, or a wedding supplier attending your special day? It’s a tough scenario where professionals are pitted against an emotional bond, and inevitably losing out.
It can be a difficult decision, one often wrought with family pressure so many couples are choosing family and friends over suppliers. It’s having a detrimental impact on our economy. Every cancellation is another wedding supplier more reliant on financial support from the government, it’s another family a step closer to poverty. It’s also having a devastating impact on the mental health of suppliers.
In terms of Covid, it’s an own-goal from the Scottish Government that contributes to increasing the risks of covid infection.
“All businesses must undertake a risk assessment to determine what adjustments are required to operate safely. “
That’s the opening line in the Guidance for Wedding receptions and funeral wakes. But if a couple cancels their professional wedding photographer, and asks their guest Uncle Bob to fulfill the role when he isn’t a professional photographer and hasn’t photographed a wedding before, then that line becomes redundant. Uncle Bob is not going to be reading the guidance since he’s attending as a guest, not as a professional, and why should he? He has an invite, not a contract. He won’t be carrying out a risk assessment. If he’s never photographed a wedding before, he won’t know the pitfalls. Having been to a wedding with a camera in the past certainly doesn’t make him experienced as a wedding photographer.
Experience is everything when you want to operate in a covid safe manner. The best way of operating anything in a covid safe manner is to utilise the experience and knowledge of the experts in the field and that’s been accessed and applied across every sector – from education to retail.
It’s not just photographers and videographers. Musicians will know the guidance on noise levels – but will the groom’s cousin with his guitar and amp know not to play over 70dB? Every supplier will tell you the tale of their first wedding and the nerves they felt at the time to “get it right”. When you add that pressure on a guest who has no experience, with the opportunity for mingling and alcohol around friends and family, don’t expect professional guidelines to be adhered to.
Meanwhile, the experienced suppliers will be maintaining a safe distance, they won’t be drinking or enjoying canapes or mingling or eating at the meal with the guests, and they will be taking precautions to ensure they don’t leave working with a group of strangers carrying the virus back home to their family. They will have undertaken strategic steps to minimise infection. I know several suppliers who have pre-ordered lateral flow test kits in advance of work – I suspect most people aren’t undertaking an LFT for personal activities including attending weddings. Professional suppliers know exactly what the risks are so that they can carry out a sensible assessment and reduce risk and help manage infection control.
People behave differently when they’re operating in a professional capacity than they do in a familial environment. That’s the same for professional wedding suppliers as it will be for any other professional in any other line of work – presumably including Scottish Government staff.
To add to this is the simple fact that a lot of suppliers can work in other areas without this being an issue. For example, professional photographers can photograph people in a studio environment with a backdrop and props without being included in household numbers, while a photobooth company with a similar setup would be included in the guest numbers at a wedding.
So this is why it’s important to exclude wedding suppliers from wedding guest numbers.
By excluding suppliers from the numbers, this will: Increase guidance being adhered to by professionals regarding their specific areas; Ensure that experience and appropriate equipment are utilised to help minimise infection; Help reduce the risk of infection as a result of professional assessments being carried out in advance; Reduce the burden on the Scottish Government to support jobs long term; Improve financial and mental health of thousands of Scottish wedding industry suppliers.
…. if the Scottish Government could deliver that, then it would be a win-win situation.
Got a minute? Let’s talk about weddings. The pandemic has been massively eye-opening about how the wedding sector is perceived by politicians and civil servant decision-makers. Early on in the pandemic, I wrote to my MP about the wedding industry. Her office responded and firmly told me that there was no such thing as a wedding industry. Well, “small businesses that make more than 50% of their annual income from selling services or products related to weddings” doesn’t trip off the tongue in quite the same way, does it?
So, here’s how I see it: Weddings have been around for millennia, predating most modern religions. Along with that, has been the need for people to supply and provide for them. There wouldn’t have been a feast at Cana without someone to prepare it. Henry VIII would likely have had musicians for his six weddings. Queen Victoria needed someone to design and make the white wedding dress that she wore to kick start a tradition that’s lasted 181 years and counting. Weddings are on your granny’s mantlepiece; they’ve been in the pop charts; we had street parties in 1981 to celebrate a Royal wedding; they’ve been in TV programmes and reality series, and on the silver screen.
Weddings – and their suppliers – have been around longer than fintech, longer than Silicone Valley, and long before the car industry. But it’s been totally overlooked despite being everywhere. Weddings have been right under your noses this entire time, and somehow politicians never even realised.
And that is the crux of what I’ve found myself discovering: the lack of awareness of governments, of civil servants and politicians, about an entire industry of people who have spent years just getting on with it. Not to mention telling me my industry doesn’t exist. (I’m still not over it).
I find myself having to justify my work to people and explain the nature of a wedding. This time though, it’s not skeptics who want to argue about prices, it’s political figures who have an influence over my livelihood. I’m sympathetic to an extent. I’m fairly sure they didn’t sign up to deal with stroppy wedding suppliers complaining about how rubbish wedding parties would be without various frivolous things in the midst of a pandemic. However, it’s much more than that.
You really need to tap under the surface of it all a bit more and let go of your prejudices about “the wedding industry”. Underneath it all, at the core is a team of small businesses mostly female-led. It’s an opportunity to have a career without a glass ceiling. It can at times be family-friendly as you fit your hours around your children, meaning that you don’t need to worry about spending your entire income on childcare fees. But it’s damned hard work. I know women who have photographed weddings up until a few weeks prior to giving birth, then gone back within two or three weeks. There’s no sick pay, no redundancy. You get asked for discounts frequently – which means it only comes off your own salary at the end because business costs are fixed. Many earn less than the average UK wage at the end of it.
When the pandemic kicked in, we looked for guidance and support. We waited without an income from March until May before SEISS and furlough scheme became available. That money, incidentally, was a portion of our income so many of us have had to take a further pay cut to pay business overheads. Not everyone was eligible for furlough or SEISS. Many people got nothing. Not because they “fiddled their taxes” as was assumed – but for various reasons, from work such as freelancing; from having changed status to ltd; to having left employed jobs to turning self employed full time within a certain time frame. This is despite HMRC knowing who we are when they contact us every year about our tax self-assessments and exactly how much tax and NICS we owe. It was unbelievably cruel and left 3m self employed people without income.
It’s taken a massive toll on people’s financial and mental wellbeing. I know a lot of wedding professionals who took out a Bounce Back Loan to survive and now facing repayments with no weddings under their belt and postponements on the horizon. I know others well into their 50s reliant on pensioner relatives for financial support. I know wedding suppliers on universal credit; wedding suppliers visiting foodbanks; people working out how to make sure their child can now qualify for a free school meal. That’s the financial side. The darker side is the impact it’s having on mental health. Many of my colleagues are now on prescribed medication to deal with the strain it’s had on their mental health. In a UK support group for those excluded from SEISS and furlough, several have already taken their own lives. It’s a poverty and mental health time bomb and it’s getting worse with each passing day of inaction from our Government.
I understand and fully appreciate the necessity for public health. I want a safe workplace. I don’t want to go to a wedding and come home with “a little something extra” for my family. But I also think it’s possible that we can find a balance of how to work safely.
I’m in a position where I’m angry and I want to do something. The lack of understanding why we need clarity for weddings is frustrating. A time frame of what to expect at what level would help create consumer confidence and stop the postponements and cancellations. Wedding season is short. It runs from the end of April until October, and 73% of couples need at least 2 months’ advance notice to make changes to their plans. 30% of Scottish weddings for 2021 take place in May and June. Couples need certainty to book suppliers.
I have taken on a (voluntary) role as the Photography and Videography rep for the Scottish Wedding Industry Alliance (SWIA). I’m wracking my brains daily to work out endless combinations to get the message across of what we need in the hope that somewhere, a penny will drop and someone with the power to help us will realise and do something. This isn’t about fighting for tropes of “first world problems”, frivolity and prosecco and self-indulgence versus a stoic national duty to public health. It’s about finding ways of working safely and allowing people to preserve the most fundamental level of people’s hierarchy of needs: their financial and emotional security.
It’s 2020. At present, there’s restrictions on wedding numbers in Scotland (and England). But, having photographed two weddings since the end of the Spring 2020 lockdown, I thought I’d write in favour of small weddings. I know a lot of couples are considering whether to postpone or cancel their date even when it can go ahead, because it’ll be “small”. However, small is wonderful.
I come to this from a bit of a biased perspective. I had a small wedding in 2016, and I loved it. The only thing that restricted our numbers at the time were our budget and our venue capacity. Excluding my husband, myself and my stepdaughter, we had 26 wedding guests in total.
Small doesn’t need to be low key. It doesn’t mean underwhelming either. Sure, we didn’t ceilidh into the wee small hours, but we had an amazing time.
So if you’re worried that a small wedding will be a bit… drab, a bit boring, not the party to wow everyone… here’s a few of my thoughts to try and help you rethink small weddings and embrace how brilliant they really can be.
Chatting with Guests
Have you ever been a guest at a wedding, and felt like you only really spoke to the couple for a few minutes throughout the whole day? Sometimes really big weddings can feel like speed dating your way through the guests. Small weddings don’t have that problem. Whether it’s 20 or 30 guests depending on your local restrictions, you’ll be able to enjoy some quality time mingling with your guests and that will make it so much more enjoyable and memorable for you and for your guests.
Guests Get To Know Each Other
While we’re at it, with fewer numbers, your guests are also more likely to know each other already. And if they don’t, it’s easier for them to get to know each other. No more small groups of people huddling together because they don’t know anyone else and feel a bit overwhelmed by the number of strangers around them. Small is intimate, and people really do make more effort to get to know each other when they’re in smaller groups. Wouldn’t it be lovely if after your wedding everyone felt a little bit closer?
You can have a small wedding, reduce the budget, but you can still go all out and have the wedding you want. Instead of trying to make your budget spread over lots of guests, you can really indulge on the things you love that you would otherwise need to compromise on. You could opt for spending more on table centrepieces, or decor. Always wanted a wedding photo album? It’s so much easier to budget for now.
Have Fun with Food
If you’re a bit of a foodie, it’s good news with small weddings. Chances are, you’ll have fewer dietary requirements to cater for. So it’s a great time to indulge in a more interesting menu for your guests rather than sticking to the 100-guest-safe options.
Get Creative With Cakes
Ok, you may not need a four tier cake with twenty guests, but let your cake maker get creative and design a cake that is a real show stopper. Perhaps even discuss alternative flavours to the usual wedding cake option.
No Plus Ones
One of the most frequent issues with weddings can be your guest list. You end up adding a plus one for your cousin, or inviting someone you don’t really know very well because they invited you to their wedding when you were small. Or maybe you feel obliged to invite the auntie-who’s-not-really-your-auntie that your mum is friends with to prevent fall outs. The benefit of a small wedding under the current restrictions is it’s all taken out of your hands and nobody has any expectations otherwise. You can really stick to inviting people you genuinely care about and want to have in attendance. Result? Less stress all round.
More Venue Options
If you’ve not booked a venue yet, smaller numbers mean there’s a whole load of amazing small venues to consider. Alternatively, if you’ve got a big stately home already booked, why not go ahead and indulge in a more spacious opulent setting? Those Victorian aristocrats didn’t squeeze into tiny spaces.
Ditching the formality
If you’re after a wedding without all the protocol and formality, then small weddings are brilliant. No etiquette over who removes their hat first, no order required for a receiving line. Just a lovely, cosy intimate wedding.
Enjoy the Meal
Big weddings usually mean sticking to a pretty strict schedule. Rooms need to be turned around so meals need to be served and finished by a particular time. With smaller weddings, you’re unlikely to have evening guests or need a massive space for a dance floor. The plus side is you and your guests can spend a bit more time digesting and eating the food. That was one of the things I loved most about my wedding – a long and indulgent meal that we got to truly savour rather than gobble up. And afterwards, there’s something lovely about just relaxing into your chair and taking time to enjoy that lovely satisfied post-meal feeling, rather than feel herded into a bar area with limited seating.
A bit of a crucial one really: going ahead with your wedding, despite smaller numbers in 2020 or 2021, means you ultimately end up helping out the local economy. If you commit to your wedding date, you’re helping all of the suppliers you use to put food on the table and keep a roof over their heads. There have been so many initiatives encouraging people to buy local, but if you’re planning a wedding the best thing you can do is go ahead with it. The more people take the jump and go ahead with a small wedding, the better it is for the economy as a whole and subsequently all of us as a society. Couples who commit to getting married are definitely part of the solution.
Edinburgh Engagement Session – Summerhall – Alan and Meryl
It was a year (ish) since I first met Alan and Meryl, and I was really looking forward to their wedding, especially after this gorgeous engagement photography session in Summerhall, Edinburgh. We met at Summerhall for a coffee (where, incidentally, I bumped into a past bride Jo, whose wedding I photographed in 2011).
It’s often very tempting to shoot engagement shoots outdoors, especially on a sunny May day, and we did indeed take some photographs outside, but for the purpose of this sneak peek, I wanted to showcase some of my favourite images from indoors.
I love old buildings, especially those with large glass windows everywhere, and an abundance of natural light to play with. I’m also a big fan of architectural lines as well, and having the chance to play around with perspectives and angles.
Summerhall was significant to Meryl and Alan as it’s somewhere they went a lot at the start of their relationship, so it was great to explore and see such a beautiful building. I’m really drawn to old buildings like this, that faded grandeur that people just expected their buildings to be when they were built, with columns and sweeping staircases and attention to detail. It appeals to my photographer side too, how the corridors are lined with large doors with glass panels, how it feels like there’s rules of fractions – halves and thirds – regarding the division of glass to wood or stone. I love the mix of iron and wood and concrete and stone, all brought together and serving a purpose. I love how the architects at the time saw fit to find an opportunity to incorporate windows to let in all the light. And I love how old buildings like this can be repurposed and recycled to create a contemporary feel and use for them. Summerhall is now an arts exhibition complex, as well as hosting gigs and weddings. It’s such an amazing building and offers so much opportunity for a photographer!
It was great to catch up and chat about their wedding plans, honeymoon plans (I’m just a bit jealous!), and all the fun things about planning a wedding day, some of which you just don’t expect. I have to admit, when it comes to weddings I think I’ve got the really fun job as I get to turn up, see how it’s all been put together through those months of planning, discussions, emails and phone calls to all their different suppliers, and then photograph the completed set up. And I get to hang out with awesome people all day long. I can’t tell you how much I’m looking forward to Meryl and Alan’s wedding. Thank you, for being such an awesome couple to photograph!
Stonehaven Wedding – Dunnottar Castle – Gillian and Alan
I loved photographing this beautiful wedding at Dunnottar Castle in Stonehaven. Although I have been fairly frequently to Aberdeenshire as my husband is from Stonehaven, I hadn’t yet visited Dunnottar Castle prior to Alan and Gillian booking me for their wedding.
I have to admit, I’m a big fan of carrying out a recce, so I can scout around and get a feel for the layout. I like to know where I can go, my backdrops, my backups, and what to expect. In the case of Dunnottar Castle, this meant anticipating 219 steps. I felt like I’d attended three HiT classes back to back afterward. I headed up a few months prior for a family trip and we made a point of visiting Dunnottar Castle for a day out.
Dunnottar Castle is a pretty amazing setting for a wedding. It does however, require suitable footwear for all those steps, cobbled paths and grass. Located on the cliffs of the North East coast, sensible clothes for the haar or the cold North Sea winds are also a must. This is the sort of location that floaty summer dresses for country estates and Pimms just won’t cut it.
Scottish weddings of course, even in summer, can be notorious for not giving you the summer sunshine you otherwise expect. Again, anticipation was key here, and I loved the blue sky lining of the umbrellas that the groomsmen used. If you’re going to need a brolly, invest in one with style.
Despite the damp weather, we were still able to enjoy an outdoor ceremony, before decamping inside for some drinks and signing of the register. While the rest of the guests departed for the Tollbooth Museum by the harbour in Stonehaven, I remained with Alan and Gillian for some additional photographs through the castle grounds and along the beach with it’s dramatic cliffs and rocks.
Wormit Wedding – Beach ceremony and the Boat Brae – Mel and Drew
Planning a wedding can at times, require a bit of a vision. You have to invest yourself into that vision, you have to have faith in it to work and you need to be able to plan it. It also helps though, if you’ve got an army of really good friends to help you out.
Mel and Drew decided to get married at the beach on the River Tay, which was accessed through their back garden. The house they bought together overlooks the Tay, framed neatly by the Tay bridge and Dundee on the opposite shore. Their home has become a precious labour of love for them, as they’ve worked together renovating it, putting their heart and souls into it, brick by brick. Having made the house a part of their relationship, it felt natural to want it to be a part of their day.
I went to visit them for their engagement session at their home, to explore with them what they love about it so much. However, with a weather forecast for heavy non-stop rain and over 80 guests, I have to admit I was slightly sceptical whether they’d be able to pull it off. It seemed, though, that the weather gods had also been roped in to deliver a favour and we had beautiful sunshine for the entire duration of the ceremony and photographs.
When I arrived, the tide was in, and the beach was no more than a two-metre strip of pebbles and stones. It was hard to imagine what it would be like, with Mel and Drew by the water’s edge, and their guests lining the beach behind them. Perhaps I should have brought some waders? However, they’d timed it all perfectly, and as the morning passed, the tide began to receed backwards, revealing the red bricks they’d laid out previously to mark out the areas for their guests to stand. A couple of friends waded into the water, to dig out a hole for the wedding arch to stand, while other friends and neighbours decorated the lanes around their home with bunting and an area for selfies, with chairs and posters. There was seating and bean bag chairs for people to relax and unwind, and tables laid out with drinks.
Despite the occasional moment of a threat of a cloud, Mel and Drew had sunshine throughout their ceremony and drinks reception. Afterwards the guests were taken by boat, chartered from David Anderson Marine to the Boat Brae, further along the coastline in Newport-on-Tay for the meal and reception.
We managed to squeeze every moment out of the sunshine, as the rain only started after we’d concluded all the key photos we wanted on the beach, before following the guests to the wedding meal.
If you can measure a man and a woman by their friends, then the affection that Mel and Drew’s wedding guests held for them was astounding. This wasn’t your usual polite, internet researched speeches. Guests stood up to talk about their friendship with the couple, and each word delivered from the heart. They each gave a rounder picture of the people they loved and knew so well.
After dinner, we headed up to Berry’s Den – or to use it’s Sunday name, the Tayfield Estate. We took an entourage of guests who fancied an evening walk post-meal, to stretch legs and make the most of the late evening light. Although the sun hadn’t returned, it still felt fairly magical wandering around the trees and gardens in the evening. And then, it was time for dancing. And my oh my, did they dance!
Loch Fyne wedding -New Castle Lachlan – Rachael and Alistair
Big or small wedding?
Massive celebration, or a more intimate occasion?
Castle Lachlan near Strachlur in Argyll was the scene for this gorgeous intimate small Autumnal wedding, for Rachael and Alistair, accompanied by their dog Daisy.
While they had enjoyed a lovely balmy summer engagement session, the Autumnal weather was different, but it made the day feel cozier.
After Claire Digance performed their ceremony, we wandered along a dirt track road to the old Castle Lachlan. This sort of wedding works best if you’re prepared to bring the wellies, an umbrella, and hoist up a wedding dress.
For a small wedding, it was a perfect setting – a house that you can hire for you and a handful of guests, your very own Scottish castle. It has beautiful scenery, and if you’re happy to go with whatever the elements throw at you it really feels amazing. The woodland track leads to the shoreline of Loch Fyne, it’s incredibly pretty and wild, which is exactly what you’d expect from the west coast of Scotland.
Castle Lachlan really is a wonderful venue for small weddings. It’s small, cozy, and doesn’t need a lot to make it special.
Stirlingshire Wedding – Kinlochard Village Hall – Pollie and Shabir
When I met Pollie and Shabir, I came away with that deep lovely feeling inside of “please book me”. I just enjoyed chatting to them so much. They told me all about Shabir’s amazing hillwalking proposal, which was a covert operation involving a band to serenade them, code names, and cover stories.
I’ve photographed weddings in Kinlochard before, but this was my first wedding at Kinlochard Village Hall. I love the area around Loch Ard, the drive is always spectacular and a wonderful escape. It’s also very close to Aberfoyle, and the village of Kinlochard is very pretty. It’s the sort of place you go to, and start to wonder if you could afford to move there and what life would be like.
This wasn’t going to be an ordinary wedding. But most of all, it was going to be all about Shabir and Pollie. There were so many traditions they didn’t adopt, and so many things they brought in to make it their own. As couples go, I found Pollie and Shabir to be I suppose, understated. Calm, easy going, relaxed, and just that lovely level of quiet serenity with them, but a clear vision and idea of what they want.
Pollie and Shabir hired an amazing coffee and tea speciality brewing company, Something Brewed. I think if you’re planning on having a dry wedding, or even if you’re coffee or tea aficionados then a coffee bar is a wonderful addition to your day. The smell for me of the coffee was tremendous, and they also had delicious still lemonade which was perfect for quenching thirst on a hot summer day.
The other thing I had to organise was a second shooter for the day. It was a total no-brainer for me. I knew who I wanted, who would fit in, who would click with Pollie and Shabir. It was of course, Julie Broadfoot from Photography by Juliebee. I’ve worked with her before and I knew she would fit in perfectly.
I think what I loved about this day, was how much of it came down to things that Pollie and Shabir wanted and loved. They followed their hearts entirely, and didn’t compromise on what mattered to them. It made everything feel so personal and being there as a photographer this wasn’t “another wedding”, but an insight to who they are as a couple, what they love, what they enjoy. It was about combining cultures and making their families at the centre, and bringing friends into the fold of their families.
From my perspective, that’s how the best weddings usually end up being – an insight to what’s personal to a couple. It’s about their personality, their unique take on what a wedding can be, rather than what it ought to be. Many thanks to Pollie and Shabir for having me along for their wedding. I loved every minute.
Glasgow Wedding – Grand Central Hotel – Lorna and Andy
Glasgow city centre on a Saturday night in July is a bustling, vibrant place to be. People enter a different mindset after nine o’clock at night. The streets empty of shoppers, and fill with clubbers and drinkers and revellers and party goers. The atmosphere changes. The twilight comes, and the lights go on and the city becomes alive. An electric sort of alive. Glaswegians are, in their very nature, fairly uninhibited at talking to strangers. Glaswegians at night, therefore, are in their element.
There’s no silence, no keeping your eyes down. This isn’t a polite, cosmopolitan city like Edinburgh. Nor is it a city of strangers like London. People stop and talk to one another, they share their opinions and thoughts and move on, never to see one another again. That’s just how Glasgow is.
Lorna and Andy wanted to go out in the evening into the city. Into the lion’s den of this unrestrained friendliness, where a stranger is simply a friend you haven’t met yet. We took Andy’s two bestmen to help us. Our body guards, who’s smiling faces deflected Glasgwegians eager to photobomb Andy and Lorna’s photographs, and who ended up being sidetracked into appearing in selfies with tourists and locals. Just… because, I suppose. At times we had to wait for them to free themselves from the friendliness of Glaswegians. I lost count trying to imagine how many Twitter and Facebook and Snapchat and Instagram feeds they would appear in.
And Andy and Lorna’s wedding reflected Glasgow so well. It reflected the city. The cool, calm and relaxed feel of the daytime, there was something so soft and gentle and unhurried about the day, with their ceremony at the Re:Hope Church in Partick. Wandering around afterward, exploring the quiet streets of the West End, which often feels like a village wrapped in a city.
Then, into the wilds of the city centre itself. Into the heart of the beast, the thumping, beating pulse of a living, breathing Glasgow that’s ready for the good times to start and isn’t going to stop. Into the night, walking with Andy and Lorna into a jungle of electric lights and vivid colours.
I love cityscapes for weddings. Glasgow excites me as a photographer. It excites me to see it and photograph it. To create something with the urban sprawl. To know that if it changes, when buildings are replaced, those photographs I take are of that moment in time, of the city as it stands then and there, in that moment, on their day.
Edinburgh Wedding – Thomas Morton Hall – Alan and Meryl
Imagine you’re sitting opposite someone who had never been to a wedding before. They knew nothing about marriage, they knew nothing about weddings and they want to know what happens. How do you describe it? What do you say to convey why their importance and symbolism to that person? How do you explain the traditions?
One of the things I love most about weddings is choice. The freedom to choose what to carry forward, what to change. I love weddings that are about choosing elements which are right for the couple. Etiquette shouldn’t dictate a wedding. It’s about choosing to do things differently. And if there’s nobody around who can deliver that… find a way of making it happen for yourself.
Meryl and Alan’s wedding at Thomas Morton Hall was one which involved a lot of DIY. When I met them for their engagement shoot, we discussed the cost of putting up fairy lights, and then removing them afterwards. Such a simple thing, but it seemed to be overly complicated to arrange and discuss. Until Meryl and Alan found a very simple solution. The success of DIY weddings, I think, lies in finding simple solutions to what you want, but having the creativity to find those solutions.
Meryl and Alan’s wedding was all about choice. It was about choosing what they wanted to incorporate. From my perspective, it was about producing photographs which encapsulated that element of them. We said no to traditions. We did something different every step of the way. I wanted to re-imagine wedding photography, as if I were to present the photographs to someone who’d never seen a wedding before. How would I explain those traditionally posed photographs in amidst a collection of unposed, documentary style wedding photographs? Why did you stop and pose that moment? What made it more important or significant than the other moments that you need to do that?
So there are no posed photographs of Alan and Meryl cutting the cake. No photographs of a first dance. And no photograph of the groom standing over the bride smiling away, as she sits smiling with a pen in hand poised over the marriage schedule (that sometimes makes me think of press photos of world leaders signing peace treaties, but there you go). The best thing about weddings, is choice and choosing which traditions you want to keep and follow for yourself, and to me that ought to include what wedding photography traditions you want to choose and keep.
Glasgow Wedding – 1699 St Vincent’s Street – Kate and Chris
“Do you want to go to Waitrose?” I asked, in wry jest. That’s where Chris and Kate met originally.
And here they were, standing together in 1699 St Vincent’s Street, also known as the Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons of Glasgow. From employees, to standing as equals, joining together in a marriage ceremony which celebrated their equality. They placed their own rings on their fingers, to symbolise their desire to be together, rather than ownership.
Kate and Chris. Chris and Kate.
It was about balance. Even the weather was balanced. We had rain, we had sunshine. As we approached our final group photo on the staircase, the heavens opened, and Martin, my second photographer, dived inside to grab an umbrella to protect me from the downpour. We headed inside for some couple portraits in the afternoon, but by evening the light was beautiful again, the rain had dried from the streets and we headed outside to contrast the indoor with the outdoor.
They gave a speech together, they thanked people, and they shared the day. They shared it together, and with those around them. Equality, from the first day. Supporting one another, sharing their strengths to help balance their individual weaknesses.
To me though, it makes sense. I suppose personally I find the etiquette of tradition difficult to adhere to, to remember, the concept of having to practice it constantly, or to even find myself caring about so passionately as to deny myself opportunities for expression and freedom that I might otherwise want. It doesn’t need to be about forgoing compromise either, or sacrificing what the other person wants to achieve what you’re after. You become a person who wants the other person to have those opportunities too. Together you find a way to make that happen. Love makes you adopt the dreams and hopes of one another. Equality in love makes you share those moments together. Even in Scrabble, bride and groom score equal points.
When I listened to Chris and Kate… Kate and Chris… make their vows, that’s what I heard. A binding promise to be an eternal unification of support, love, equality but most of all friendship. They may have met in Waitrose, but this was where their marriage began, at 1699, in the Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons of Glasgow.
Aberdeenshire Wedding – Thainstone House – Amy and Jonny
I was so excited when I met Jonny and Amy and they booked me to photograph their wedding at Thainstone House Hotel, in Aberdeenshire.
Aside from all the details, there’s something about them as a couple which I just really love. Their enthusiasm, their infectious sense of fun and all the giggles you can have with them. They have this youthful joie de vivre. You sort of know you’ve got a good couple when you walk past a paddock of ducks, and when the ducks quack at you, both photographer and bride quack back in return without a second thought.
It was awesome arriving at Thainstone House to greet Amy as she was getting ready on the morning of her wedding.
The Ballroom – which was where the reception would be held – was being prepared with stunning centrepieces. One of the things I loved about this wedding was how Amy and Jonny tied in their personal love of dinosaurs into their day. Every table was named after a different dinosaur, and covered with mosses, succulent, Boston ferns and bluebells. Isla Duncan, the florist, loved creating her centrepieces and bouquets too – it was an opportunity for her to have a lot of fun and get really creative, something I think every wedding supplier relishes. I couldn’t resist a cheeky wee photograph of the shoes with the Tyrannosaurus Rex who was of course, the top table centrepiece.
The morning passed, as all wedding mornings do, with remarkable speed, and soon it was time for the ceremony. Amy and Jonny had their hearts set on an outdoor ceremony. Since the weather was good, Thainstone House were more than happy to accommodate and set up the lawn for the guests, with a long red carpet to the altar.
After the ceremony, guests were able to enjoy ice cream to cool off in the hot sunshine as well as canapes and drinks. We slipped off along the drive, towards the bluebells and ferns for some couple portraits. Soon, it was time for the wedding meal. I have to admit, I loved the bestman speech from Dan. No cheesy internet searched best man jokes; just a direct-from-the-heart, loving speech for Amy and Jonny. No roasting, no humiliating, it was all love. Despite Dan’s nerves, I think it was one of the loveliest bestman speeches I’ve heard.
As the sun was so bright, we decided to head out in the early evening for some more portraits, after the wedding meal. I had explored a little during my recce when it had been overcast and damp, but on the day with the sun shining, I was able to find a lovely little track through the woods, where the sun was shining through the ferns and leaves. Amy and Jonny practiced their first dance during the photographs too, so when we returned, and it was time to dance, I had a little idea of what might happen.
Many thanks to Thainstone for their hospitality, it’s truly a gorgeous and wonderful venue which I’d love to return to in the future.
Many thanks also to Amy and Jonny, it was such an honour being with you on your wedding day.
Aberdeenshire Wedding – Logie Country House – Joyce and Brian
This was my first wedding at Logie House in Aberdeenshire, and it was wonderful. Joyce and Brian were surrounded by all their friends and family, and this was very much a wedding which was about celebrating the love they have for each other, and for their families. They hired out Logie House, which meant many of the family were able to stay there and make themselves at home.
The house itself has a swimming pool, hottub, as well as a large dining kitchen which the family used. While Brian and Joyce were getting ready, friends showed up and like all good parties, it started in the kitchen. Brian’s dog, Maxy, was there to greet each new visitor as they arrived.
Once Joyce was ready, everyone headed to the Ballroom across the courtyard, which was set up for the ceremony. The room had been decorated Trina’s Art and Flowers . What was lovely for me as a photographer, was to talk to a supplier who was so happy and thrilled with the creative freedom Joyce and Brian had given her, and the scope of the project for her.
After the ceremony it was time for the fun to kick in, with the drinks reception. Guests were able to enjoy themselves indoors, or in the courtyard (where we took photographs), and I took Joyce and Brian away briefly for a quick couple portrait session in the kitchen garden at the back of the house.
The meal was fantastic. Joyce hadn’t planned for any speeches, but her sons and best friend decided that they would give a speech. It was lovely to watch, with moments of emotions and tears of happiness… and a few moments of tears of laughter all rolled into one.
The wedding was seranaded by Paul Black, who’s singing was so lovely he had guests and wedding party spontaneously dancing between courses.
Joyce and Brian’s day couldn’t have been more perfect. The weather, although drizzly at first was warm and beautiful, and just made the day that little more special for this wonderful couple.
Glasgow Wedding – Glasgow University and Cottiers Theatre – Rebecca and Quentin
Glasgow is such an incredible city, full of beautiful buildings and architecture. As well as it’s amazing modern skyline along the Clyde, there are some wonderful traditional buildings and locations that are perfect for weddings.
Glasgow University Chapel is among them, which alumni can have their wedding ceremony. Whether it’s a humanist or religious ceremony, the chapel makes a wonderful backdrop for weddings. Rebecca is an alumni of Glasgow University and so it was a fitting location for her wedding to Quentin. They wanted to show their friends and family, from France and Isle of Man, to experience everything they loved about the city they’ve made home. The Cloisters were also perfect for photographs after the ceremony, simple but beautiful and the light that pours in through them really creates a fantastic sense of atmosphere.
After their wedding ceremony, it was off to Cottiers Theatre for the reception, a short distance from the University, and as a converted church it had the same feel with high ceilings, decorated with twinkling lights to add to the party atmosphere.
The feel of their wedding, while very classical, also felt very modern, with beautiful flowers from Little Botanica, and that stunning Dana Bolton wedding gown.
I was thrilled to have a second shooter with me as well – Julie from Juliebee Photography – who I’ve worked with several times before.
I loved photographing Rebecca and Quentin as well. We’d previously had an engagement session in the autumn, so working with them just seemed to flow together beautifully, and I loved how relaxed they were on the day in their photographs. Everything about this day just felt incredible, and both the University and Cottiers are a wonderful combination for a naturally photogenic wedding.