It finally begins - OUR wedding plans!

"How's wedding plans going?", "Who will be your photographer?", "I bet you have so many ideas from seeing all these weddings!", "When you getting married?", "Do you know where you want to get married?", "What date you getting married?", "What month?", "How many bridesmaids you having?", "BUT WHO WILL DO THE PHOTOS!!!!!!". Fellow brides will totally relate with most of these questions....I hope? Otherwise everyone is very over excited about our wedding. These questions have been asked to me pretty much every week since we got engaged at the end of 2016.

When we first got engaged we knew that our priority was buying a house before planning a wedding. We just felt that was the best decision for us. Both are expensive & it was more important for us to have a home to call our own, & then this would be somewhere to come back to as husband & wife! With this in mind we had an engagement party in March 2017 to try & calm all of the hype, questions, & it gave us a good excuse to have a bloomin good party - which we did! Little did we know that four months after this, we would be in a brand new house! It all happened so fast & unexpectedly, I still can't quite believe it. We moved in the middle of wedding season, so due to being so busy & moving house, our own wedding was completely out of our minds cause we didn't even have time or money to think about it. So whenever I would get one of the listed wedding questions, I think I just resorted to making a high pitched thinking noise as I was fed up of repeating myself with boring information & almost felt embarrassed we had NOTHING planned. It wasn't until the last couple of months that we have really started thinking about it & I find it rather funny that I have been saying to Rob "we have the house now. So we have no excuse!" as he always said "we must have a house before a wedding". I think we got the house a lot faster than he thought!

I think nowadays there's so much pressure when you get engaged to get the wedding booked instantly & get everything moving. But for us, we were happy to just be engaged until we were ready. I didn't ever want to plan a wedding due to pressure, I wanted & still want it to be an enjoyable experience. I feel as though Rob & I also have added pressure because of what we do, we see so many weddings so I think people expect ours to be 'amazing', & I agree due to how fussy our jobs have made us, I WANT to make it amazing! I think I have also been putting it off so I can get mentally prepared for what it could potentially bring out of me - 'Bridezilla', cause I want to have full control, mainly because we know exactly what we DON'T want. So anyone even trying to help or offer suggestions or advise on what the traditional or lucky way to do things are, could hit a nerve. I know, it's terrible but this is what being a wedding photographer has done to us (mainly me). I sit here laughing as I'm typing as I am making myself sound horrible, but it isn't that. I suppose I have seen plenty of weddings (some include close friends) which I know from them actually telling me, has been tailored around everyone else's needs, suggestions & some decisions are made to make others happy. What we have learnt most of all is a wedding should be about the couple & what makes THEM happy & if people love you, they will love it regardless. You shouldn't do something cause it's 'tradition' or cause 'that's what you do at weddings', unless that certain tradition is specifically important to you. For us it's more about planning a 'party' rather than a 'wedding', as I think sometimes this is where people can get lost in "that's what you do at weddings isn't it" motto. 

So after a few months of Rob & I debating, going to bed with a plan & waking up changing our minds we have done a full circle & booked a venue we have already photographed at. This is something I thought I would never do, but as there's only two venues in the UK I would get married at - HA!, (this being one of them), there wasn't much narrowing down to be done. We have been close to going abroad alone so we could just concentrate on each other & wouldn't have to worry about anyone, but this didn't feel right, especially with us being so young. Then we were going abroad but only with a few people, but again something didn't feel right; which was a sign to us that we obviously did want EVERYONE there. So then we decided to go back to the venue we fell in love with whilst photographing & see how we would feel there as a bride & groom. We needed to go & look at it from another perspective. So this is what we did last week, & instantly we looked at each other with the 'mutual nod'. This. Is. It.

Image by Kate Hopewell-Smith

Image by Kate Hopewell-Smith

I'm not going to go into details of where it is & what we are planning as I would like it to be a surprise & keep some things close to my chest for now. However if you are an avid follower of mine you might be able to work out the venue! But this is a place unlike anywhere we have been & we have picked it for this reason; but also because it's ours to do with as we please. We didn't want a venue which does lots of weddings over one weekend & where we would HAVE to have their caterers, wine, follow their structure & be out by a certain time, (again I think this is cause we see so many that we have the benefit of knowing where this happens). We wanted somewhere where WE could be in control & use the time (or weekend as we have it!) as we wish. We will be breaking most of the traditional wedding rules, for example a sit down meal, this is something we both have decided isn't right for us. We just want an all day party where food will be coming out sporadically & we can just eat & party throughout the day & mingle with everyone. I will talk about our day in more detail once it's been & gone as I will really be able to explain why we have made certain decisions. Unfortunately you'll be waiting a while to read as we get married next September! However this won't stop me sending Save the Dates soon otherwise we will just end up telling everyone to their face!

Although our job has made us super fussy, I suppose it's a blessing in disguise as we have all the tools & knowledge about weddings including talented friends & family, some of whom work in the industry. I feel like it's also made me some version of a wedding planner so I really think I am going to enjoy planning our day. I love my job & all the weddings I go to, but I couldn't let ours feel like work, so we definitely have our work cut out to make it completely different but I am so so excited! I may give an update mid wedding planning, but if not, there will be a very long post after the wedding. By which time you probably would've totally forgot it was even happening.....but as I have said before, it's therapeutic for me to ramble this all down anyway! So message to future Jessica "I hope you didn't have a nervous breakdown & had the best day ever!??!" .....I think I've gone mad.

For perspective brides who enquire with me or who have already booked me - I am now completely in your shoes on my own little wedding journey. I know how expensive everything is & how stressful it can potentially be. BUT you must prioritise what's important to you & invest in those things over others. Everything else will fall into place. Enjoy the planning experience & don't let anyone tell you what you should or shouldn't be doing!

Next job for me - Florist!

X

Source: www.jessicaraphaelphotography.com

The Dairy at Waddesdon Manor Wedding - Amy & Tom

Where oh where to begin with this incredible wedding & even more incredible couple - Amy & Tom. I have previously spoke about them briefly on their Engagement Shoot Blog which I definitely think made a huge difference in how they felt towards both Rob & I on the day. It certainly did for me. When I arrived I felt like I was turning up to a friends wedding & there's nothing more encouraging than being greeted with the biggest smile & hug from the bride. Not only this, I actually felt like Amy & I were pen-pals as we had sent SO MANY emails before the big day, mainly as we were planning the St Ives trip; but it did bring us closer.

Waddesdon Manor is an incredible country house in Buckinghamshire previously owned by The Rothschild family, & now part of the National Trust, it is managed by The Rothschild Foundation. On the estate are three venues, Waddesdon itself, The Five Arrows Hotel (where the boys were getting ready in the morning) & The Dairy, where Amy & Tom had their wedding. When Amy booked me she had mentioned there might be a possibility we could go to Waddesdon Manor to take some photos later on in the day & I certainly had my fingers crossed for this, but when I arrived I just saw it as a bonus as The Dairy is beautiful with gorgeous grounds & lakeside pavilions. 

Everyone was so relaxed in the morning, the sun was shinning (good old September) & I had Rob working with me. This makes for one very happy Jessica. I stayed with the girls at The Dairy & Rob shortly walked to the boys at The Five Arrows so he could stay with them for the run up to the ceremony. It was great working with two suppliers from one of my previous weddings at Aynhoe Park - Herbert & Isles Flowers & Sarah Yeo Makeup. This wasn't a coincidence, Amy & my other bride Kristine know each other so we all came together though the power of 'word of mouth'.

Amy & Tom had asked Rob if he could film their ceremony & speeches so they had a little bit of 'the best of both' which I think is a lovely idea if Rob is my second shooter & you are also torn about having a film. However I will say that Amy & Tom wished they also had a full film after receiving their mini one. Anyway, Rob switched to film for the ceremony & away we went. I LOVE outdoor ceremonies but they sometimes do have their challenges. This one was beautiful but the harsh sun was directly on the back of Amy & Tom who's faces were under cover in shadow, so if this isn't a challenge I don't know what is! But I brought out my quiet ninja skills to go backwards and forwards to make sure I was capturing every angle & ultimately it worked out just fine - as it always does.

This was followed by a gorgeous drinks reception under the pavilions & a massive group photo of everyone, which meant me being in ultimate David Attenborough mode the other side of the lake in the bushes, doing frantic hand movements to Rob who then became my translator. We did some lovely relaxed family portraits & then a few Bride & Groom photos in the hope that we could do more at Waddesdon Manor later! Once everyone was seated for the wedding breakfast, Rob & I had the pleasure of lying in the sun under the pavilions & this was definitely one of those moments where I pinch myself in disbelief that this is my job. It isn't easy but when you get days like this one it's hard to imagine doing anything else. As we were enjoying our break the light was absolutely beautiful, the kind of golden light every photographer dreams about for a wedding. This is when you are in the 'photographers dilemma', to grab the couple or not to grab the couple. As it was Amy & Tom I knew they would be up for it even though potentially eating their dessert. This brings me into a little side note about why I always stress it's so important to build a relationship with your photographer so you like & trust them as it also works in our favour too. If I didn't feel comfortable with them, or if they hadn't given me any signs that they were too bothered about pictures we probably wouldn't have asked them to come outside & they wouldn't have got a few gorgeous photos in the golden hour. We spent a maximum of six minutes doing this & I was so grateful for them, but they were also for me as the one particular photo is one of their favourites; also I think it was nice for them to have a mini break together alone in sunshine. See?! We have to work together! I can't give you the bobby-dazzler images if you don't give me time. (This is defiantly calling for a separate blog as I am becoming passionate & rambling)....

We then went back inside for the speeches which Rob turned to film for again. I love the speeches & nearly always cry, even after all this time! In the back of my mind I was prepared for not going to Waddesdon Manor for more photos as I thought we would run out of time & didn't want to pester Amy & Tom for more. But once the speeches finished, Amy ran over "shall we go now" I made sure I said "do YOU want to" as I wanted it to be their decision, "YES". So all hands on deck! Tom's Dad was putting ribbon on his AMAZING car, I am terrible with cars so have no idea what it is but you will see in the pictures, & we all jumped in so he could drive us around the corner to the manor. I was going to leave Rob at The Dairy but they insisted he came to, so Rob was in the back with Amy & Tom, whilst I was in the passenger seat. This moment & car journey through the grounds is probably my favourite moment of any wedding. We were all slightly hysterical chasing the evening light & were laughing about nothing. We made it & little did I know it was just going to get better & better. We had all the grounds completely to ourselves. It was actually breathtaking standing in front of Waddesdon manor & having no pressure from anyone whatsoever. So we took some time taking photos & having lots of laughs, (you will see a bts photo at the end!). I will always look back on this & smile, we all loved it. Then just as we started to loose the light, we went back to The Dairy just in time for the evening guests arrival, shortly followed by cake cutting & the first dance. So as you can probably tell, there wasn't a single moment where Rob & I had nothing to photograph, the day didn't stop & we couldn't have wished for anything more perfect.

Since then Amy & I still email, & I am photographing one of her closest friends weddings next year! They sent us a Jo Malone candle as a thank you & it's taken pride of place on my bedside table so as creepy as it sounds I now think about Amy & Tom every day - hahaha! Below is a lovely message I received after sending them their photos & I have also attached a snippet of Rob's film he made them. He surprised them with adding in some footage he took whilst I was doing their engagement photos on the beach in St Ives so it really added something special to their ceremony & speeches footage. 

Thank you Amy & Tom for choosing us. We honestly had the best day. x

We can't begin to thank you both enough for our stunning wedding photos that we will enjoy looking through over and over again. Each time I re-look at our wedding photos I get excited as I see and feel something different as you've captured so many photos and all of the crazy emotions of the day perfectly!  The morning of the wedding I looked forward to you joining us as you were much more than just a photographer and I immediately felt at ease and relaxed when you arrived with a big hug and smile. It was lovely to hear comments from guests that they loved how you helped with little touches to my dress and hair throughout the day and how easy you both fitted in with the wedding party that they didn't feel or notice they were having their photo taken. You and Rob are a very talented couple and make a perfect team photographing and filming together. We both felt so relaxed in front of the camera and that was thanks to you both for making it so easy and fun and always smiling and laughing with us. I can't count how many times I've told friends and family how excited we were to have you both as our photographers and I'm so happy that we will meet again at a friends wedding in 2019! It feels amazing that our friends love your photography as much as we do and I cant wait for them to meet you both and feel as excited about their photographs as we did! Thank you both again for capturing all the emotions and memories of the best day of our lives through pictures and video that will last a lifetime!

 

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Behind the scenes with my new Father of the Groom assistant...

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Source: www.jessicaraphaelphotography.com

A blog about blogging.

Hello! 

I have been away from my desk for a couple of weeks but I am now back to blogging & making plans for the year ahead whilst I have time. The reason for me being away is a personal one which I won't go into but it brings me into writing this blog, as I would love your opinion on whether you feel a professional blog should purely be dedicated to 'the profession' (in my case, photography) & not include personal things, or a bit of both...

I have done a handful of personal blogs in the past & have recently gone back & read them all. I am so pleased that I did this cause it's really lovely for me to look back on & reflect how I was feeling then & how far I have come. They mostly link in some way to my business whether it being about workflow or personal achievements or my own engagement! This brings me to ask, is this as far as 'personal' blogs should go if using on your business site? I suppose it depends on the type of business you're in & the person you are but I always say to my clients I want them to book me if they like me, but sometimes it can be more than that. I want to be relatable & real rather than a wedding photo machine or 'the cheaper option'. If you already read my blogs you will know I do love a ramble but that is because I really enjoy it, I love writing down how I am feeling & talking about what's going on in my business / life, & as I have read them all back, I have realised I want to do more - I find it very therapeutic! But by more I mean, talk about anything I feel like talking about, not just my business! I sometimes think of a blog post I would love to do & then stop myself cause it isn't to do with photography or my business. Rob thinks I should write a book but he is my biggest fan & would unfortunately be the only person to read it, so I think I will stick to the blogging route for now.

This is a picture of my coffee table tray arrangement as I didn't know what picture would be appropriate for this blog.
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So my ultimate question, & it's regarding myself (not in a general view, as like I say, every business is different). Do you think I should keep personal posts separate to my website & have a completely new blog, or do you think it's refreshing to have a mixture of both? What would you find inappropriate or unnecessary? Would you be interested to read about my holidays, whether we should get a puppy, my love of interior design, my love of pineapples, our own wedding plans (even though that's linked), recently deciding to have surgery (whoops I said it! Subtly slipped it in, so only the ones who have read this far will know!) etc etc. I would love to know your thoughts, whoever you are! But mainly from my previous clients or perspective clients & fellow photographers as you are my audience after all. 

OR - is there no right or wrong?

I'll be back soon blogging a wedding - of course! In the meantime I will be doing a lot of reflecting.

Have a lovely weekend. x

Source: www.jessicaraphaelphotography.com/blog