wedding planning ideas

14 Unique Ideas To Make Your Wedding Totally You

It’s time to reveal some of my favorite ideas to help you when you start planning your wedding. This will help make your wedding an unforgettable experience for you and your guests.

wedding planning ideas

Why is this such a big deal? Well, I don’t believe ANYBODY’S wedding should be a “one size fit all” type of wedding. Your wedding is YOUR day, and it should feel like the right fit for your personalities from start to finish.

What I realized after seeing hundreds of brides on their wedding day, is that the thing that makes each wedding unique is…YOU.
Now, before you tell me how obvious that is, think about it.  What is the one thing that is completely original and unique about your wedding day, that no other wedding day has ever seen or done before?
YOU!.
Your guests have never been at party celebrating YOUR love and relationship with your fiancé.  They’ve never seen YOU in that gorgeous dress, walking down the aisle, partying on the dance floor.
The secret to having a wedding that leaves a lasting impression on your guests and really feels like “you” is weaving as much of your personality as possible into your wedding day.
Believe me, over the more than 25 years of being a photographer, I’ve seen hundreds of weddings and come across numerous wedding planning ideas, including the details of what makes you special, and these things cost LITTLE OR NO MONEY. So feel free to ignore these suggestions, but I’d advise you to consider carefully these thoughts when planning your wedding, as they’re not based on theory, but on what I’ve seen work over the years.

14 UNIQUE TOUCHES FOR YOUR WEDDING
1) Naming Your Tables. Instead of using traditional table numbers,  name your tables after a special interest or hobby that you share. Such as…players on your favorite team, cities you have visited together, or types of wine.
2) Newlywed Trivia. Create a list of trivia questions about you and your fiance for your guests to answer. This not only lets your guests get to know you as a couple, it breaks the ice as guests answer questions as each table.
3) Favors That Represent You. Give your guests favors that say something about your interests. One couple had Star Wars knitted characters for all their guests, since the bride and groom were big sci-fi fans.

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Another gave bottles of honey wine they’d made themselves.
4) Share Your Childhood Photos. You can do this in a collage of photos of the two of you growing up, in your signature guest book, or displayed on your gift table.
5) Display Your Parents and Grandparents Wedding Photos. This is a  romantic and elegant way to share your family history.
6) Love Letters. You can put together a collage or scrap book of letters you and your fiance sent to each other if you had a long distance relationship. [Be sure to get your fiancé’s permission first though, as us guys often prefer to keep these things private, as it could affect our street cred! 🙂 ]
7) A Groom’s Cake. Have a groom’s cake designed to honor your fiancé’s interest or hobby.  A fire engine if he is a fire fighter; a guitar if he is a musician.
8) Personalize Your Vows. Write your own vows and add personal details to let your guests glimpse more of your relationship.
9) Tell Your Love Story. Have either your officiant or your master of ceremonies share your love story with your guests.
10) A Photo Montage. Play a montage of photos of the two of you growing up and then together set to music.
11) Invite Your Guests To Perform. If you have musicians or dancers in the family, ask them to perform at your ceremony or reception. (Just make sure they will still enjoy themselves!)
12) Make Memories With Music. Play your favorite songs and artists during your ceremony and reception, or the songs that your family and friends love.  Some fun places to use your favorite tunes include your walk down the aisle, your introduction music, and  your parent dances.
13) Dedicate a Song. If there is a song that reminds you of one of your loved ones, have your entertainer dedicate it to them.  It can be serious, sentimental, or silly.
14) Thank Your Guests. Take a moment during the speeches or at the end of the night to thank your guests.  You might invite them to the dance floor to form a big circle and dance together to a song like “That’s What Friends Are For” or “Friends In Low Places.”

You don’t HAVE to use all or any of these things.  But I do encourage you to express your personalities in a way that fits
who YOU are, because it will engage and involve your guests like nothing else.

HOW FIND YOUR UNIQUE TOUCHES
1) Make a list of all you and your fiance’s hobbies, interests,
and quirks. Are you a sports fanatic?  Are you into painting or
writing?  Do you have any favorite musical artists?
2) Looking at your list of hobbies and interests, write down some ideas for how you can work them into your favors, decor, or music.
3) Pick out your favorite unique ideas and DO THEM.

If you loved these few wedding planning ideas, I have many more waiting to share with you. If you’d like my style of photography and would to meet up for a chat about making your day a memorable occasion, get in touch here. Or, why not sign up for my newsletter updates of what’s happening at Clive Blair Photography?


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How to Find the Right Suppliers For Your Wedding

When it comes to finding the right wedding supplier for your wedding, it can be like a minefield knowing who to choose and why. A basic foundation to it’s success is hiring the right team…and it can be quite stressful! How do you find the right match for you? How do you know who to trust? Where do you go for advice? First of all, this is not an easy task and it’s totally normal for couples to feel overwhelmed, frustrated or confused. It’s not like you plan a wedding every day! This is all probably brand new to you, so be patient with yourself. I’ve been a Birmingham wedding photographer for over 25 years and I’d like to share with has worked over the years, so you’ll be able to find the right wedding supplier who fills all your needs.

finding the right wedding supplier

So how do you pick the right wedding supplier who is right for YOU?

First of all, STYLE, PERSONALITY, and PROFESSIONALISM are the biggest things to look for. You want to hire vendors who your guests will feel comfortable with…because the more comfortable your guests are the more FUN they have. Each vendor should also match the style and vision of your wedding.

Here are 8 Must Ask Questions to ask ALL your potential wedding professionals before booking:

1. How many weddings do you do per year? How much experience do you have?

This is an extremely important question. Ideally, your wedding professional should have ample experience specifically with weddings. Not only will they be more skilled in their craft, this also makes them a valuable source of information and ensures that your wedding day goes smoothly.

2. How much do you cost?

Price is often relative, especially when you factor in experience, reputation and expert skill. Generally, the most talented professionals have a higher price tag because they are worth it.

3. How much is the first payment to secure your services?

£250 along with a signed Booking Form will secure me for your wedding.

4. What specifically is included in that cost?

Because packages often vary, it’s likely that you won’t be able to compare one supplier exactly to the next without doing a little figuring. The lowest cost isn’t necessarily the best deal; some higher quotes include services that you have to pay extra for in other packages. Make sure you take this into account.

5. What happens if I cancel? What happens if you cancel?

Find out if your deposit/retainer fee is refundable under any conditions. Does the wedding professional have a back up plan if something happens to them?

6. Do you use a contract?

If the answer is No, RUN! They’re definitely not the right wedding supplier for you, or anyone else for that matter!! A contract is designed to protect both you and the wedding professional. Don’t settle for a verbal agreement that won’t hold up in court.

7. Are there any additional fees?

Travel fees, VAT etc. can add up quickly. Make sure you understand exactly what is included and if there are any other fees you’ll have to pay. This should be clearly defined in your contract.

8. Do you carry liability insurance?

The answer you’re looking for here is Yes. This protects you in case an unfortunate accident should occur on your wedding day. It’s also a sign that this is a reputable business, since most “fly by night” operations don’t invest in insurance.

One final bit of advice: READ YOUR CONTRACT. Make sure you understand everything that’s written and ask questions if you don’t. There IS no stupid question…except the one you don’t ask. Make sure you know the price as well as cancellation and refund policies.

GO WITH YOUR GUT. If something feels “off” about the wedding supplier…you’re probably right. Make sure you feel comfortable with them, you like them, and that their personality will be a good blend with your guests and reflect the tone of your wedding.

Remember: if chosen wisely, the right wedding supplier will give you expert help and advice on every aspect of your wedding…for free!

If you’re now planning your wedding and you loved these wedding tips, contact me via my contact page as I’d love to meet up for a chat. Or, why not sign up for my newsletter updates of what’s happening at Clive Blair Photography?


What Is a Documentary Wedding Photographer?

This is an often asked question. In simple terms it means being an observer and recorder of your wedding, with little interference. If you’re familiar with Star Trek, think of it in terms of The Temporal Prime Directive: To visit, to watch, not to interfer and to bring back a record.

Read More About My Documentary Wedding Photography

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Why Should You Book A Professional?

I came across a great blog post that I just had to share with you all, especially if you’re undecided whether to book a professional photographer to record your wedding, or instead ask a friend with a camera to do the job.

Can I add too that I know there are a few “professional” photographers who do a less than stellar job and quite a few amateurs who do a fantastic job. But if you take a group of 100 professional and another a group of 100 amateurs, which group is more likely to deliver the goods for you consistently? I’ll leave you to decide!


Questions to Ask Your Wedding Photographer

I recently read an interesting article in an online Bridal magazine that listed several questions they suggest you should ask when choosing a wedding photographer. I didn’t agree with all the questions, as some were quite irrelevant, but the majority of the questions in the magazine are questions I’m regularly asked, so I thought, in addition to my FAQ answers, I’d list my answers below for you if you’re wondering about how I work, what happens if, etc.

Background Check:

• How long have you been shooting weddings?
I started in 1987

• Have you shot a wedding at my ceremony and reception venues? If not, do you plan to check it out in advance?
I’ve shot at so many venues over the years. There are very few venues I’ve not worked at. Some even recommend me as a preferred supplier. Find out here. But if I’ve not worked there before, or recently, I do like to scout out the location beforehand.

• Do you have a portfolio of recent weddings you’ve shot that I can browse?
Yes. Visit here

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Photography Style:

• How would you describe your wedding-photography style? (e.g. traditional, photojournalistic, artistic)
I’m mainly a documentary wedding photographer.

• How would you describe your working style? (e.g. Does you prefer to blend into the background and shoot what unfolds naturally, or does you create a more visible presence by taking charge and choreographing shots?)
80% of my time is spent in the background, watching, observing, and documenting your wedding. But for the other 20% I’m a little more hands-on when for eg groups need organising, or I’m shooting a little bit of stylized photography of you both.

• Can I give you a list of specific shots we would like?
I do have a recommended list of formal photographs that won’t detract from the documentary style of coverage, and I’m more than happy to follow your requests. But be aware that a long list will detract from me capturing the natural story of your day.

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Photography Packages and Payment:

• If my wedding site is out of your area, do you charge a travel fee and what does that cover?
No. My prices are all inclusive. The only exception is for weddings in Central London, abroad or more than 2 hours drive away. The extra fees will be agreed by prior arrangement.

• What packages do you offer?
Typical prices can be found here. If you’d like more detailed information, fill in my online contact form to get my password to download my full pricelist.

• Can I customize a package based on my needs?
Yes!

• Do you include a pre-wedding shoot in your packages?
You can either add a pre-wedding shoot to your package, or if you order a 30+ page wedding album, then your shoot is complimentary.

• Do you offer a photo booth?
I personally don’t supply/run a photobooth, but I can put you in touch with a recommended photographer who does.

•What type of album designs do you offer? Do you provide any assistance in creating an album?
Albums and their designs vary from traditional with mat overlays, storybook layout or a mixture of both. You can view the different types here. Full assistance is provided with all designs. Either you choose your favourite images for the album and I’ll design a layout around your selection, or I can choose your images and design the full layout for you. Either way, you get to fully approve the final layout before it goes to print, in case you’d like to change something.

• Do you provide retouching, colour adjustment, or other corrective services?
Yes. Standard corrections/adjustments are always done. But there will be a charge for major corrections/adjustment. Ask for further details.

• How long after the wedding will I get the proofs? Will they be viewable online? On a CD? A thumb drive?
3 weeks after your wedding your images will be uploaded to a secure password protected web gallery for family and friends to view your images. Not long after, all your high resolution images will be delivered on USB. Full reproduction and printing rights will also be given you, so you can copy, print and or distribute your images as you wish.

• Will you be posting about our wedding on your social media sites (blog, Facebook, Instagram, Twitter)?
I choose a selection of images and/or weddings to promote on my social media, but I have no problem if you’d prefer total anonymity.

• Will you be submitting our wedding photos to magazines or blogs?
Yes, but only with your full approval.

• What is the ordering process for photos and albums?
After receiving your digital files, you choose your favourites for your album or reprints via my online proofing system. For albums, a proof album layout will always be provided. If you’d like to alter anything that can be done. Once full approved, your album will be sent to be printed and bound and is usually returned about 6 weeks later.

• How much is the first payment and when is it due?
The first payment of £250, called a Retainer Fee, is due on booking. This amount will be deducted from your final package cost. Once the Retainer Fee is received, along with a completed Booking Form, your date is secured and I will turn away all other enquiries for your wedding date.

• Do you have liability insurance?
Yes

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Logistics:

• Do you have backup equipment? What about a backup plan if you are unable to shoot my wedding for some reason?
Yes. I always use 2 camera for each assignment and each camera have dual card slots. This means every time I take a photo every image is automatically backed up to the 2nd card slot. I also always carry with me more spare cameras, lenses flashes etc. Once home, I copy all my files to 3 separate onsite locations, plus 1 on-line location. So, even if my house were to burn down your images would still be safe. Because I network with other professional photographers, if I was unable to attend your wedding then I would be able to provide an alternative photographer for you.

• Is it okay if other people take photos while you’re taking photos?
I have no problem with guests taking their own photographs during the day, as my main style of coverage is in a documentary manner, ie I’ll blend in the background and capture the candid off-guard moments that often go unnoticed. But if there are any formal groups required, then I request that I’m allowed to take those photos with no interruption or distractions. This way all in the group will be looking at my camera and not in various other places.

• If my event lasts longer than expected, is there an additional charge to stay?
No. My costs are not based on a set number of hours. If I’m there all day then I’ll start from the morning preparations (I usually like be at the morning prep location for at least 90 mins before leaving ahead of the bride so I can photograph the groom and his men, and any guests’ arrivals) and I’ll stay until the first dance and beyond if needed, especially if you’re having a sparkler exit or fireworks for the evening celebrations. So, how ever long that takes, I’m there for you without clock-watching.

• How far in advance do I need to book you?
You choose. But most book 12-18 months ahead of their date.

• What information do you need from me before the wedding day?
Only a few preliminary details are needed on the booking form. I’ll ask for more details about 1 month before your wedding, by asking you to fill in and submit your pre-wedding checklist.

• How do I book?
First ring or email to check I’m available for your date. If I am, complete my online booking form and submit your £250 Retainer Fee by bank transfer. I’ll then write back to fully confirm your booking. About 1-2 months before your wedding date, we’ll have a pre-wedding consultation meeting to confirm all the necessary details for your wedding. That will be an excellent time too to have your pre-wedding photo shoot.

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