It may surprise you to learn that there are a few things I’d change about my wedding day. Firstly, I didn’t have a photographer. Shocking, I know.

But in my defense it’s not as bad as it sounds. I was married in June 2012 before I had any involvement in the wedding industry, or before the realisation finally hit that I was destined to be a wedding photographer.

As the first in our group of friends to get married, myself and my wife Breffni were the guinea pigs. Having been to very few weddings we didn’t really know what to do. We took a laid back approach to the whole thing, deciding that a professional photographer wasn’t essential, adopting the view that we have plenty of friends who are good with a camera, perfect for taking a few snaps throughout the day. If you’re laid back yourself you’ll relate to the feeling of not wanting to have to be in certain places at certain times… we had a desire to do things at our own pace, with no formal structure, and so the professional photographer moved down the list of priorities.

Another reason which contributed to this outcome was that around this time, there wasn’t really a photographer who aligned with the vision of what we wanted. Formal style, posed photography was really popular then but it just wasn’t us.

Fast forward to today, and I find that my style of photography perfectly matches what I had in mind for my own wedding day. I find I’m extremely mindful of this when shooting couples. I offer a combination of taking direction and delivering exactly what they ask for, but I also know that there are certain shots that if we don’t get, you’ll regret, so I’ll definitely guide you in the right direction.

While we had a wedding with a difference in mind, we did get married in Northern Ireland and I’m glad we did. There was the temptation to go abroad but we both have big families and as a lot of my cousins were married in England or further afield, my family had never been treated to the experience of a wedding in Ireland. Also, something which was really important to me, was wearing my granddad’s suit on my wedding day. He wore it on his wedding day 60 years before me and I really wanted him to be a part of our day. A wedding abroad meant that wouldn’t happen so the decision to stay at home was made for us.

Initially, we had somewhat of a theme in mind, which definitely matched our casual approach… an outdoor wedding, located in a marquee on Breffni’s parents’ beautiful garden. We had given ourselves plenty of time but what we soon realized is that organizing a wedding of this kind became a bit of a mission. You have so many more things to think about which you take for granted in a hotel. What about toilets? Where will guests park? Where will the caterers prepare the food? Suddenly our low key wedding took on the extravagance of planning a festival! Although we had afforded ourselves plenty of time to organize all of this, we were let down at the last minute by an unreliable vendor and so we were left with the task of finding an alternative venue. Our vision for an outdoor wedding quickly became a wedding in a hotel. While ultimately there is nothing wrong with this at all, and we had a fantastic day, it wasn’t our first choice.

So why I’m telling you all this is because I understand how it feels to be let down on one of the most important days of your life. I also value how crucial research is! My advice is to consider every element. While you might be laid back, remember, your wedding day is one of the biggest days of your life, and every element which goes into it plays a part in that day, so make sure you use reliable vendors who come highly recommended.

Back to those wedding photos… Don’t get me wrong, I love them but fast-forward four years and looking at them now with the photographer’s eye I have developed means I see things a little differently. With this in mind, we have taken the plunge and myself and Breffni are having some professional photos taken soon. As someone who doesn’t enjoy having their photo taken (I’m better behind a camera than in front of it), I’m actually excited to see the final outcome. Call it an experiment if you will, it’ll be good to put myself in the shoes of the couple and use the direction I usually give others.

So both my own wedding day and working in the wedding industry for a few years now has taught me a lot and I’m happy to use this knowledge and pass it onto the couples who have honored me with the privilege of photographing their wedding day.

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