Rules on photographing wedding ceremony

Photographing wedding ceremony can be a challenge for photographer, some times we are not allow to move, many venues don’t let you use flash, and some dont let you photograph any thing.  When planning your wedding be sure to ask the minister or clerk what their house rules are on photography.

The house rules on photographing a wedding is becoming more and more restricting theses days.   Wedding official’s for Church services and even civil ceremonies have all become hardened by the constant clicking and flashing of the modern digital photographer.  And some churches will not allow any photos during the wedding ceremony any more due to distribution of taking photos.

My solution to minimise the disruption during a wedding ceremony is to keep to a maximum of 6 shots during the ceremony itself.    During the ceremony I wait for those cherished moments, a little look, a smile, and the exchanging of rings.  From my experience just 6 shots is enough for the wedding album as the scene is pretty static and generally the photographer is not allowed to move during the service.   Capturing the setting, guests and details should all be achieved before the ceremony starts.

When faced with officials that have strict house rules once I explain that I will only  just take 6 shots during the service they are pretty ok to let  me do as I wish.  If all else fails then I have the bride and groom pose at the alter the ceremony to stage some shots.  I think this is such a special moment when two people have just given their vows and standing at the alter it really dose need to be recorded.


Photography by Mark Dolman

Finding the right wedding photographer for you

During these tough financial times many couples looking to get married are working out was of keeping the cost of their wedding down and I have seen an increase in blogs and magazines suggesting using family or a friend who is handy with a camera to take photos of the wedding day.  Here I will provide some of the pros and cons of using a professional wedding photographer compared to an amateur or even a pro photographer but does not specialise in weddings.  Also if you are looking for a low cost option then searching for a photographer who is wanting to take on weddings and is offering free wedding photography to kick start their career.  To find these newbies I will list a couple of sites where you will find these new photographers.

Everyone has a budget in mind and depending how you value getting amazing images of your wedding day then you should use this as a guide depending on what you are looking for.  Like every other service there are varying scales.  Everyone is capable of taking a picture we all do it, so what are you paying for ?.  Its a bit like finding a restaurant, some people are happy to eat fast food, some like a nice country pub and then some eat in five start Michelin restaurants.   Wedding photography packages are very much the same, you get what you pay for.  If you are shopping on price you will find plenty of a cheap wedding photographers.  If you want a beautifully presented album with amazing images fit for a magazine cover then you will pay more.

Typical rates for wedding photographers
£200 to £500 amateur, / hobby photographer
£500 to £1000 Part time or new start-up wedding photographer
£1000 to £2000 Full time Pro wedding photographers
£2000 to £5000 High end Pro wedding photographers

Getting the shots
Pro wedding photographers are well versed at getting the shots you want for the album and will take command of the group shots and get them done as efficient as possible.  We also know the venues  and how they work so we can be in the right place at the right time.  Above all one of the hidden codes to being a Pro wedding photography is we try and keep the whole day on schedule so this run smoothly.

Non Pro wedding photographers will find the group shots very challenging and stressful so be patient with your friend who is trying to capture your wedding and be accommodating to give them some time to get all the shots.  An inexperienced wedding photographer will miss some shots as there is so much going on.  Until a photographer has completed a whole wedding from taking the pictures through post production to creating an album a couple of times then they will not be in tune with what is needed.

When paying a premium rate for a wedding photographer you know they have received the training and developed their skills over many years.  For myself I studied part-time HND photography for 3 years before taking on a project for financial gain and it took another 6 years before I shot my first wedding.  Even with my training and experience I am still attending training sessions and the last one was with Julie Boggio, the UKs leading wedding photographer plus every year attending the Society of Portrait and Wedding Photographers SWPP conference to keep up to date with current trends and techniques.

This goes without saying but all my equipment is professional grade yet I have seen wedding photographers using high end amateur cameras and lenses.  The trade off with non professional equipment is not being able to capture high quality bright colourful images in low light plus you need the speed to capture those defining moments that happened in a split second.  And as always I carry three of everything should a technical issue arise.

An area often overlooked is calibration of equipment, I calibrate my camera to my computer which is them setup to use the same profile for our printers to ensure exact colour matching.  A very important process especially when many wedding have a colour theme these days.

Post production
This is where skills really stand apart.  A Pro wedding photographer will capture all images in RAW format.  This is say they are unprocessed files.  Like with the old days of film it is the time between capturing the image on film and taking to the photo lab for processing.  Your instant cameras capture JPG files which means the camera has worked out all the light and colour levels for you, compressed the image and creates a JPG.  With RAW files a photographer does all the processing on a computer to maximise the image and set the correct level and tone.

How I work is I import images from my camera using Photo Mechanics to sort and rate images.  Using Capture One to set the light levels and colour correction plus any cropping.  Once this is done I process the images in Capture One and create jpeg files.  With the set of jpeg images this is where the real retouching starts in photoshop to remove any distracting items in the background, remove skin blemishes on the close-ups.  With all the images now looking clean and bright I use OnOne photo effects to add that special touch.  This whole process can take a day or more to complete.

If using a non pro wedding photographer but want to find one that will create great images ask them what their workflow is for processing images.  For me this is a work in progress area of my business and continually assess new products as they come to market and always research new trends and techniques.

Album Design
Album Design is an art in itself and if your photographer has had little experience this area then it will be major hurdle for them.  Firstly to find a supplier they like and are in tune with the printing process of the printers to ensure there is quality control all they way.  Fortunately my partner Heike has many years of experience in publishing and marketing for major brands that I leave it to her to lovingly create the layout for our albums.

Peace of mind
As a full time photographer public liability insurance is very important should something unfortunate happen and provide you with added coverage.  Also I keep 3 copies of the images. Once  images are imported from the camera I create a back of the RAW files on CD.  The processed jpg files are created on a separate hard drive and then once finished the files are hosted on our on-line image store.

From start to finish a full day wedding coverage can take up to 40 hours to complete with travel time, 8 hours coverage, uploading and backup of images, processing, retouching, album design and shipping.  So if you are paying £500 for your photographer with an album, they are either working for well below minimum wage or they will not put the time in for post production.

As mentioned above, places to search for those new photographers looking to offer low cost wedding coverage please visit these sites.

So my advise when looking for a wedding photographer is to shop around and always meet face to face and view some sample albums which should be a complete album of one past wedding and not just the best images of all the weddings to get a feel for the style and quality.  If you are shopping on price then try the links above and be up front with your budget as you will probably get a lot of replies but not be able to afford them and will save you time finding the photographers in your price range.

I hope you have found this article useful and always happy to give advice if you are struggling to find a photographer right for you.


About Mark Dolman
Mark Dolman is a wedding photographer in Buckinghamshire for natural journalistic wedding photographing in London, Watford, High Wycombe, Slough, Windsor, Marlow, St Albans, Iver, Rickmansworth, Amersham, Chesham, Aylesbury, Berkamstead, Hemal Hempsted, Herfordshire, Buckinghamshire, Berkshire, Oxfordshire

Are you looking for some wedding design inspiration

Are you looking for inspiration for your wedding day then checkout Mark Dolman Wedding photographer in Chesham captures natural and candid moments through a journalistic approach to wedding photography.
In the wedding photo gallery below I have taken the best bits of all the recent weddings I have photographed and created a gallery for wedding venues and Wedding themes containing wedding cakes, flowers, cars, entertainment and tableware.  The wedding collections will grow over time so bookmark this page and come back again.

To see all the Wedding Venue galleries Click Here

Venues Featured include:

  • Heatherden Hall Pinewood
  • Harpenden House
  • Phylis Court
  • Sopwell House
  • The Sun Hotel Hitchin

For Wedding Theme’s, cakes, flowers, tableware, entertainment and more Click Here

Mark Dolman is a wedding photographer base in Chesham, Buckinghamshire serving all surrounding counties,  in Hertfordshire, Berkshire, Oxfordshire, Surrey and London.

With a natural and reportage style and journalistic approach to weddings that is gentle with your guests and simple wedding photography packages for digital image only or digital story book albums including digital files.  Contact us today for a no obligation meeting to view our sample wedding albums  in your home or at your venue and discuss your wedding photography package.

After your Wedding Day what do you do with your photo CD

So imagine this, the wedding day is now a distant memory, the dress is back from cleaners and you have tried out all your wedding gifts and you still have that CD of wedding photos you paid a lot of money for sitting in a draw. Many couples are opting for a CD only wedding photography package these days.  But even if you have your album printed but still have hundreds of photo not used why not bring your wedding day back to life and print some images !

The best tip I can give you is print your photos as soon as you can with a good printing lab.

Do Not go to Boots or some other high street Kiosk as these prints will fade over the years and you are very limited on the size you can print. If you have bought a wedding album they are usually sqaure format so have a look at someone like Photobox or where I print most of my images is This is slightly more expensive than the high street because you are paying for postage and packaging but if you are printing a lot of images it will work out cost effective. Also SimLab guarantee their prints not to fade for 50 years in daylight and 100 years in the dark.

The other point about keeping your images on disk you need to know is a CD is a very fragile thing and can easily get damage and will in time expire. CD manufactures will never state how long they will last but the standard length of time is 10 years. It sounds a long time now but time does fly and when you most want your images back they could be lost forever.

Do keep copies of your images on a hard drive or online but again this is never guaranteed. How I store images for my wedding clients is I copy images for the camera to my computer and create a second copy on an external drive as a master copy. Once I have reworked all the images they are saved again as the final cut and hosted to my online storage system provided by another company. Once the project is finished I burn every thing to a DVD so there are always multiple versions of the same files in 3 locations at anyone time. It sounds over the top but I hate loosing images and before becoming a photographer I worked in IT for what is now called Symantec one of the largest backup software companies and have seen large businesses disappear over night after loosing their company data.

Storing files of a USB stick is much more secure than a CD but be aware as technology changes so your USB may not work in years to come.  If you are old like me then floppy disks don’t seam so long ago.  I had an experience with a USB stick that I used on my old PC for many years and when plug into another machine it wiped the whole thing clear without asking me.  Thankfully there was nothing on the stick I needed but it has worried me every since. So I never delete images on my camera memory card until I have created at least two copies of the files.

For my last tip is be sure to rename your image files so you can find them again. Everyone is a photographer these days and we have 100s or 1000s of images on PCs, phones, CD etc. Nothing drives me more crazy than when I can not find a file, so a full proof way if you take a lot of photos is rename them with the date and place/event or peoples name with a sequential number. For example I use the format 120930 Smith Wedding 001. The date is reversed so when looking lists of images by file name they will follow the date order. Also put your images into folders and in this example I would create a folder called 120930 Smith Wedding. To make life easier I create and new folder for every month and year so searching is a simple matter of know the year and month to quickly narrow down the list of images you are looking for. If like me you are more advanced then look at purchasing an image management. I use PhotoMechanics to sort my images, rename them and add keywords / phrases to images on mass so I can find all sorts of thing if needed.

So hope this helps you keep you wedding memories alive forever and if you would like any advise then I am always happy to answer your questions.

How to protect yourself on your wedding day

It goes without saying a professional photographer should have public liability insurance and should be of the type specific for photography as it covers you should your photographer not be able to attend your wedding.

For further protection post wedding should things go wrong I would advise anyone to pay their wedding deposit with a credit card.  This way you are covered under section 75 of the consumers credit act 1974 where should the photographer not deliver what you wanted for any reason or lost your images for example you are covered.  Paying just the deposit actually will cover you for the whole amount of the agreement so even if you pay the balance with cash or cheque the entire amount is protected and the credit card company will fight your case to refund your money.  Businesses need to have a direct merchant account with a provider, paying via PayPal of Google for example does not apply to the same regulations as credit cards.

So 2 things to ask for when considering a wedding photographer is ask to see a copy of the Public Liability insurance as your wedding venue may want to see a copy plus check what forms of payment your photographer will take.  If they do not have a card payment terminal at your per-wedding consultation and can not show you an insurance certificate then my advise is buyer beware.

Getting Group Shots at your wedding

Photographing formal groups at a wedding can be challenging and takes up precious time with your guests.  If your do not plan this time then the different combinations of group shots is endless and will quickly eat up all your time and before you know it you will be sitting at your table without having any time to speak to your guests.  And for you wedding album there will be a few detail shots and just pages upon pages of people standing in a line. While my approach is always to capture natural candid shots of your wedding many people still want some formal group shots especially the parents.

Below I have created a list of my ideal photo shoot flow for a wedding day listing the shots I would recommend having if groups are important to you.  This is assuming at least an hour and thirty minutes is allocated to get these shots done between the ceremony and wedding breakfast.


Wedding Photographer shot list
Bride Getting Ready
Groom, Best Men & Ushers
Groom & Ring Carrier
Detail shot of Rings
Guest Arriving
Bride with Father and Bridesmaids
Groom waiting at alter
Walking up the Aisle with father
Exchanging vows
Giving of rings
Formal signing of Register
Receiving wedding certificate
Walking out of ceremony
Throwing confetti
Canopies & Drinks
Natural Shots of Guests at wedding
Formal Groups Shots
Group shot with everyone
Bride & Groom with Brides Parents
Bride & Groom with Grooms Parents
Bride & Groom with Brides uncles, aunties and cousins
Bride & Groom with Grooms uncles, aunties and cousins
Bride & Groom with Best Men & Ushers
Bride, Groom, Bridesmaids, Best Men, Ushers & Page Boys
Bride & Bridesmaids
Wedding breakfast room details
Wedding Breakfast
Images of top table and guests at table
Post Dinner
Hen Party
Stag Party
Rings on finger
Intimate Portrait of Bride & Groom together
Natural Shots of Guests at wedding
Cake Cutting
Entertainment – Throwing Bouquet
First Dance

About Mark Dolman
Mark Dolman is a wedding photographer in Buckinghamshire for natural journalistic wedding photographing in London, Watford, High Wycombe, Slough, Windsor, Marlow, St Albans, Iver, Rickmansworth, Amersham, Chesham, Aylesbury, Berkamstead, Hemal Hempsted, Herfordshire, Buckinghamshire, Berkshire, Oxfordshire

What is the meaning of a Wedding posy

Since Queen Victoria’s day posy’s became a fashion accessory for women but go back further and you will learn that every flower has a meaning and men gave a small posy to the one he loves as a gesture to show her his interest with a hidden message in the flowers he gave. So be careful chaps black rose look cool on Ozzy Osbourne but not appropriate for your wedding day. In todays wedding flowers are normally chosen by the bride a who often choose their favourite flower or have the same as their mother. At last year’s Royal Wedding the Duchess of Cambridge chose flowers that reflected her relationship with Prince William. She chose lily of the valley (return of happiness), ivy (fidelity) and Sweet William (gallantry).”

I would love to see a return of the groom sending a bouquet of flowers to his bride on the wedding morning with its hidden message in the flowers and a little note of love.

Grooms if you want to try and wow your bride then check out Wikipedia for the language of flowers.