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Welcome to our wedding photography webchat!

Hi everyone

Welcome to our wedding photography webchat with Jo Tennant. She's got everything you need to know on what to expect from your photographer, how much you should expect to spend and how to make the most of them too - so you can get the best memories of your big day on camera!

If you'd like to ask Jo a question, simply click "post reply" in this thread and type your question into the box. Her reply will appear in the same thread (but please bear with us if we get busy, your question will be answered as soon as we can!)

Enjoy yourselves




  • fsm21fsm21 Posts: 471
    Hi, just wondering if you could help with a group-photo question? We are getting married in a large church in Central London (Brompton Oratory) and having the reception in a town-house with an open terrace at the rear of the building. I am a bit confused as to what might be better for large and small group photographs: the church has a large front portico with steps which would be great for large groups but the terrace backs onto private gardens and this may be our only chance to get some shots of our guests in a verdant natural environment. We are not allowed confetti anywhere on the church premises which means we would only be able to get those -confetti' shots at our reception venue. What would you suggest and is there a way to combine both?

    Also, how long on average do group photos take in your experience? I would not want too many as our photographer is more into reportage style & we are on a tight schedule on the day! Many thanks.

  • JoTennantJoTennant Posts: 15
    Hello to everyone! Please feel free to ask me anything - I'll try to answer in as much detail as possible. And please excuse my typing if things get a bit busy!

  • Trina123ukTrina123uk Posts: 132

    I have only recently started planning our wedding, we get married in 2010 and i've been told to book a photographer asap.

    Could you give me any tips as to where to start, what to look out for and how to find a good photographer?

    We are thinking of having a storybook style album, not too traditional as we prefer the casual shots.

    Any advice would be gratefully received!

  • angie6137angie6137 Posts: 326
    Hi Jo. Do you think that more rather than less make-up is better for photographs? What colours for make up i.e. eyes, lips, in your experience, are more flattering? My dress is ivory and my hair is blonde with auburn tints to it. Any advice would be welcome. Many thanks, Angie
  • clareshaunclareshaun Posts: 699
    hi jo

    i was just wondering what the average cost of a photographer is?

    i want the whole day package from me getting ready to the speeches.

    any ideas of what im looking at paying?

    im in the merseyside area so if you can recommend anyone that would be great.


  • nanauknanauk Posts: 990
    Hello Jo ,

    We get married in Cyprus in 5 weeks and have booked a package with a photographer containing 24 photos . We have 30 guests and I am struggling to write down what photos to have taken. Obviously bride and groom , attendants , both families and a group family and total group. What else should I include , don't want to miss anything or anyone out.

    Thanks in advance ,

  • JoTennantJoTennant Posts: 15
    Hi Fabbride

    Groups are often a problem! Many photographers like to get all of the formal group work done in one place, often at the church so that time and people are not lost on route back to the reception, but if you want a selection of backdrops then you need to agree this with the photographer ahead of the wedding. It's easy enough to combine the two. Have your large groups e.g. extended families on both sides and perhaps friends, done at the church, then have your small intimate groups done at the reception.

    Don't forget that your photographer will need room to step well back to take group shots and they will look to have you with your backs to the sun. If the terrace faces the sun it may not be the ideal backdrop that you are hoping for.

    If you have all your groups taken in one place you can allow 20-30 minutes, so that would be families, friends, bridal party. Allow additional time for you and your husband. If you want to split the groups between locations you need to allow 20-30 minutes at each location. Bare in mind the the photographs won't start the second you walk out of church or into your reception so you need to allow a bit of leaway

  • 418karina418karina Posts: 697
    Hi Jo!

    Thanks for helping us out.

    as well as our posed group shots i would like some informal ones but not cheesey silly ones - does that make sense. is there anyway I can make sure i get some natural looking shots of the principal characters in my wedding party without having them standing there looking awkward?

  • JoTennantJoTennant Posts: 15
    Hi Trina

    Oops justed posted you a huge reple that didn't go through for some reason - so lets try again!

    Start with recommendations. Do you have any friends who have been recently married who loved their photos and their photographer?

    After that the MPA website look for photographers in your area and check out their sites. Style is critical. Meet with photographers face to face. Personality is very important. Your photographer will be with you for the whole day so you need to feel that you like and can trust them. They'll be directing you and your family and friends.

    When it comes to the album make sure you are comparing like for like products. There are many different styles of storybooks out there so you need to make sure you get the best possible quality for your money.

    Hope that helps, let me know if you want more details on anything.

  • 418karina418karina Posts: 697
    Oh also... (sorry) I am quite a shortie and my fiance is about a foot taller than me. also my sister and my sisters in law are a fair few inches taller, even when i wear heels. any advice on how to make me not look like a teeny weeny little girl without having to have everyone sitting down?!

  • JoTennantJoTennant Posts: 15
    Hi Angie

    Don't go too bare, especially on lips. The best colour lipsticks are those that are the same colour as your lips but a shade or two darker. Gloss is lovely but doesn't stay put for long. Avoid sparkles as highlights look like white spots and and when no light reflects you get black spots. This is particulalrly obvious in black and white photographs.

    If you have great skin a tinted moisturiser would be fine, but if your not flawless don't be afraid to use a good foundation.

    I'd probably suggest not going too far away from colours that you would usually use for eyeshadows. Be wary of mauves as you can end up looking like you have the remains of a black eye! FWIW my sister got married last year and she is a natural blonde - she wore olive colours on her eyes and they looked great on her!

    The makeup counters in the big stores are a fantastic place to have a try of lots of new products without having to go to the expense of an initial trial with a makeup artist. There is no commitment to buy and you'll get some great advice

  • fsm21fsm21 Posts: 471
    Thanks for the info Jo.

    All the best x
  • JoTennantJoTennant Posts: 15
    Hi Clare

    I'd look to charge you £1795 for that length of coverage, for that you'd get myself and one of my colleagues Sally or Denise and you'd get either a Graphi or Queensbury album with the first 100 photographs. I'd have to be very honest and say that we are looking at increasing these prices sooner rather than later as although this may seem a lot it actually barely covers our costs.

    Let me have a quick look at who I know in your area and I'll get back with a recommendation.

  • angie6137angie6137 Posts: 326
    Thanks so much for the advice Jo! x
  • JoTennantJoTennant Posts: 15
    Hi Annamaria

    Basics would be as follws - you'll need to adjust depending on your bridal party - you can just pick and choose from here.


    Bride and Mother

    Bride and Father

    Bride and Mother and Father

    Bride and Bridesmaids


    Groom and Mother

    Groom and Father

    Groom and Mother and Father

    Groom and bestman

    Groom and bestman and ushers

    Bride and Father walking down the aisle


    Signing the register

    Bride and Groom walking up the aisle

    First formal shot of Bride and Groomafter wedding.

    B&G and all brides family

    B&G and brides immediate family

    B&G and brides mother and father

    B&G and bride and grooms mother and father

    B&G and all grooms family

    B&G and grooms immediate family

    B&G and grooms parents

    B&G and bridal party

    B&G and friends

    B&G and everyone there


    B&G and cake

    Lots more of the Bride and Groom!!

    They are the typical formals from which to make a selection. Even though you are getting 24 in your package make sure the photographer takes many more so you have a great selection to choose from and if you want to upgrade you can.Also make sure that he takes not just the formals you have asked for, but additional informal shots too.

  • JoTennantJoTennant Posts: 15
    Hi Honeypearls

    It's worth knowing who you want to be involved in your relaxed shots. Realistically it needs to be the younger members e.g. your bridal party or friends, parents and grandparents often struggle with anything other than the norm.

    If your venue has a staircase sitting is a great way of making the photographs look instantly more relaxed - and helps with the height problem you've just mentioned too! Anywhere, where you can use furniture to sit, or position people around makes for a more relaxed take on a groups shot. Essentially using the "props" that are available so that you can avoid stading in a long line.

    Setting the bridal party up so that they are in couples, all chatting and laughing with you and your husband works well, or alternatively walking along together all chatting. It doesn't need to be in along line - you and your husband could walk slightly ahead with the remainder of the party behind, shot from the side this works very well.

    Another sure way of relaxing a groups shot is to take an arial shot of a large group. It's a much better way of ensuring you see everyone's faces and people are amused at the photographer for taking it, so reactions are normally good.

    Going back to the height difference, use any change in height at ground level to your advantage. If there is a step at a front door use it. Ultimately you are the height that you are - I once saw some pre-wedding photographs of one of my brides taken in China.She was 5ft 0ins the groom 6ft 4ins, they had stood her on a box, under her dress so that she became 5ft 8ins. While you couldn't see the box, it still looked ridiculous - some things are perfect just the way they are.

  • nanauknanauk Posts: 990
    Thanks for the list Jo , will take it with me and discuss with the photographer.


  • JessyBukJessyBuk Posts: 29
    I really want reportage style photography at my wedding but I have a small budget. Any tips to save on the photographer cost but not on the quality? x x x
  • JoTennantJoTennant Posts: 15
    Hi Jessy

    Reportage doesn't have to be huge money, but it does require the right photographer. Many people think that reportage is simply an add on but it's a skill in it's own right and many photographers don't do it well. Whatever you do don't entrust it to a friend or someone who thinks they know someone, you'll be hugely disappointed.

    If you find a photographer who quotes by the hour you may be able to reduce the hours coverage you have, to what you see is critical. You may be able to find a photogarpher who will shoot the wedding and sell you all of the files with no album, though long term I'd say this is a false economy as you would still need to get the prints done yourself and buy an album, which automatically means you're compromising quality.

    If your wedding is out of season mid-week you may find a photographer who has a reduced price package which may help.

    Jessy would you mind me asking what your budget is?

  • LucyBensonLucyBenson Posts: 34

    I am getting married on December 20th. We are having a church service at either 2.30 or 3pm followed by a marquee reception. It is going to be either dusk or dark when we leave the church so what is the best thing to do for photos? Our photographer has asked if we can find somewhere to have some formal shots other than the marquee so there is interesting background but we cannot think of anywhere. Any suggestions? Will there be any point taking shots of us leaving the church as there will be little light?
  • Hi Jo

    Thanks for coming to chat with us!

    How can I make sure the photographer captures all of my friends and family having a good time without me promting them for shots? I'm worried I'll be a complete control freak on the day and follow them round asking them to take loads of shots.

    Should I introduce them to all the people I want included in my album before the day?
  • JessyBukJessyBuk Posts: 29
    Thanks Jo - that's really helpful. Haven't as yet drawn up the budget so I'm unusure just no it's smaller than mosts.

    JB X
  • FKBedinghamFKBedingham Posts: 19
    Hi Jo

    I am getting married on the 6th September 08, we have booked an MPA photographer and we are really looking forward to seeing the wedding photo's after the wedding. However, i am petrified what the photo's will look like, as when i try and pose for a photo i either smile like a cheshire cat or look misrable! Do you have any tips on how to smile, or what i can do in order to get some nice photos?

    Many thanks



    I cant afford a pre-wedding shoot to get used to the photographer unfortunately.
  • JoTennantJoTennant Posts: 15
    Hi Lucy

    First of all if you can have a 2.30pm service try for that as any light at all is useful to a photographer. We can shoot outdoors until just before dusk if it is fair, which in December could take you up to about 4pm. You could ask you photographer to shoot you at the church door, followed perhaps by a "mock up" of you walking away down the church path, before going back inside for groups. You don't have to have the photographs in your album in exactly the same order as they were shot on the day, use the available light to it's best advantage. Even when it's past dusk a good photographer will be able to use any available light and add in flash to get something for you. You cold ask him whether he would be prepared to use a video light which would help.

    It's always worth asking at the church whether you can stay inside and use it after the ceremony to have your group shots done. It's something I regularly do both summer and winter - most recently on Saturday - a church wedding follwed by marquee! Typically it means that the very large groups need to be split down as there often isn't enough room to have for example all of you friends shot together.

    If your photographer is local to you do they have any suggestions at all? The problem with a third venue is that you are likely to lose people. You need to get the main groups done in one of your main venues, either church or marquee.

    If there is somewhere that you and your husband could go to, that might be an option. Is the marquee in the grounds of your home? Is there an option to do anything there - i.e. just the two of you in the house - not the rest of the guests. Is there a beautiful public building somewhere close by that you could use? Does the Church have anywhere they could suggest?

    If all fails - what about the marquee - is there space there to do any group shots, or will it be completely filled with tables for the wedding breakfast? Could you allocate an area an fill it with flowers for a backdrop?

    Hope there is something there you can use!


  • jolie1000jolie1000 Posts: 21
    Hi Jo

    We have chosen our venue but are a bit concerned by where we are having our civil ceremony. I always imagined a ceremony outside, or in a high-ceiling room with light coloured and intricate architecture. Instead we have found the perfect location, but the ceremony is held in a long room with red carpet, walls and curtains. I hoped I could make it really romantic if we closed the curtains and lit the room with candles - creating a glow under which we can say our vows - but am concerned about photography.

    Have you taken photographs under such lighting and will it work to the detriment of our photographer? I know photographers can work under most circumstances but I don't want our ceremony photos to be hazy or look like we were married in a fire! There is a chandelier in the room - will it help if we leave that on?

  • JoTennantJoTennant Posts: 15
    Hi Dorsetbride

    Your photographer doesn't need to be introduced to everyone, but they need to know who is important to you. If I explain how I work, you will get an idea of how we do this.

    Approximately two weeks beofre the wedding I sit down with my bride and groomand we go through the whole day in fine detail. We start with an overview of the day, primarily to confirm the timings, where Iw ill be when and what I'll be aiming to shoot at that point. Then we go through a family tree for bothe the bride and the groom. I take names for immediate family (so parents brothers sisters their partners, their children and grandparents) for bridesmaids, bestman ushers pageboys and flowergirlsand I then ask who else is critically important to the couple who hasn't been named so far. This ensures that I know who the main players in the wedding are and I understand the dynamics of the relationships to each other and to the bride and groom.

    We then go through a list of which formal photogarphs the couple want and whether there are any specific informal groupings they are looking for e.g. bride talking with her best friend etc.

    I find that if I know in advance who the important people are it's very easy on the day to put names to faces and shoot accordingly.

    A pre-wedding consultation is going to be critical for you.

  • webmaster01ukwebmaster01uk Posts: 737
    Hi Everyone

    Thankyou very much for ansking all these questions and thank you to Jo for sharing all her great expertise with us

    She will answer al the questions that are left above my post

    Don't forget next week's accessories webchat from 4-6pm!

  • JoTennantJoTennant Posts: 15
    Hi Fiona

    Natural natural natural!! On the day you will be radiant and you won't need to force a smile, just relax and enjoy it as much as you possibly can. If you're happy with your teeth don't hide them, I find that brides that do actually do look as though they are forcing a smile and look either nervous or just plain fed up.

    Don't worry about not having a pre-wedding shoot, we hardly ever do them. Do however insist on a pre-wedding consultation and express your concerns to your photogarpher. If they know you are nervous about something they will do their best to help you overcome it on the day. I think it's incredibly difficult to practice smiling - on the day, just let your emotions show through and you can't go wrong. O - and have fun!!

  • JoTennantJoTennant Posts: 15
    Hi Bewitched

    So sorry to say this but candles alone are going to be a problem for your photographer, probably even just adding in the one chandelier might not be sufficient. Photography during most civil services needs to be off-flash, so using available light only. The chandelier would need to give out a reasonable amount of light to make this work. The alternative is that the photogarpher would need to work on a tripod, which would still leave open the chance for movement in the images either from you or guests. These could look lovely, but it's a risk.

    Available light from outside would have a beautiful quality in a red coloured room, I think you would be amazed at how wonderful your photographs would look if you considered leaving the curtains open.

    Ultimately it sounds as though there is going to be a compromise. It might be worth looking at other weddings shot in similar conditions at the venue so you can get a better idea of your options.

  • JoTennantJoTennant Posts: 15
    Clare - try Andrea Johnson

    very lovely lady!!

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