May 13

The lowdown on wedding videography

When I went to the National Wedding Show a couple of months ago, I was struck by how many stalls there were offering videography packages. We’d already booked ours, thank goodness – as I’ve said before, it’s a bit overwhelming when you come up against so many different options in one go.

Everywhere we turned (well… when we weren’t ricocheting between photo booths and donning comedy wigs – I think mum and I had one glass of fizz too many!) we came across another company offering a different take on the idea – some of them provide cameras for your guests to film the day themselves, some provide fancy dress, others put together a professional, edited film of the day’s action, complete with music, messages from your guests – all sorts.

It can all get a bit confusing, particularly because it’s a relatively “new” concept. So I decided to speak to a professional to get the low-down for me – and all you other brides-to-be out there! Our videographer Rachael Givens is creative director, filmmaker and chief editor at Lovebug Films, and was only too happy to chat to me and offer up some tips. (She’s lovely – and a true romantic, too! And having set up her own company when she was just 19, she’s an absolute expert.)

Screen Shot 2013-05-11 at 22.25.18

“I think having your wedding filmed should be a must for every couple getting married, and more couples are choosing to do this in addition to photography,” she says. “Hearing your vows to each other is the most beautiful thing to watch back – you’re so nervous on your wedding day and time just goes by so quickly you forget all the little details. Through social media, couples are now able to display their wedding film for all their family and friends to watch too which I think is a great thing – especially if there are family who couldn’t make it to the wedding.”

That’s true, and something I hadn’t thought of. Our guest list is so tight because of numbers and cost – for people we’d love to be there but who we unfortunately can’t invite, this could be a good way around it?

“Choosing the right videographer for you is crucial,” she adds. Rachael has given me five top tips for making sure you’ve got the right person for the job…

Top Tips…

1. When looking for a videographer you should always meet them first – as they will be a massive part of your big day. They’ll be there from beginning to end, even if you don’t notice them around, so make sure you choose someone who is easy to get on with and who is passionate about their job!

2. You should choose a company who can give you what you want, for example, their style of filming, editing and finished product.

3. Watch their films to make sure you are happy with what you’re paying for. You must have an emotional connection to the films – I always secretly love it when people cry watching my films, it means I’ve captured their hearts.

4. Speak to the videographer. Tell them your visions and ideas – I always feel the better films of mine are the ones where the couple are themselves around me and forget the camera is there. They talk to me about the proposal, funny stories, little details etc. That way, your film represents your love story to the best of my ability.

5. Think about the costs. When it comes to paying for your videographer sometimes cheaper doesn’t mean worse and pricey doesn’t mean they’re the best. I would advise lots of research into getting your package right.


After speaking to loads of people about videography, I had a few questions about it too. I gather I’m going to be pretty busy on my wedding day (!) – do I have time to be filmed, too? Rachael has answered my questions below:

How long are you at the wedding for? As long as you would like us to be! On average we normally arrive at the brides house when she is scheduled for hair and makeup, and we stay til 20 minutes after the first dance.

When do we get the finished product? 12-14 weeks after your wedding.

How much input do you have ie do you tell us what to do? As much as you would like us to have!

How many people film and edit? There are two film makers, myself and another fully trained film maker. I edit myself as it’s my favourite part if it all, watching it come together.

Do we choose our own music? If there is a certain song you would like I always try to include it.

I forgot to ask what happens if I trip up. Will it be edited out?! Anyway. Turns out it’s not just wedding videography that people are after these days either.

“An engagement film is the ‘new kid on the block’ in the videography world,” Rachael says. (Click here to watch one of hers.)  “It allows the couple to practice being in the company of the filmmakers and cameras. It also provides an opportunity for your love story to be told, because many of your friends and family may not know how you got together or how he proposed. This can be filmed several months before your wedding and can be sent round via social media and DVDs for your guests to watch before the wedding, giving them a taster of what’s to come. It can also be used as a save the date or wedding invitation – something very different – and what I’ll be doing when it comes to my own wedding. For some weddings, couples can have their engagement film played at their wedding before they enter the reception as husband and wife!”

Makes our plain old paper save the date cards seem a bit dull, really…

For more info about Rachael visit her website by clicking here.


May 13

Videography – yes or no?

A videographer was second on my list – right after photographer – of ‘things that I believe are absolutely essential to our wedding’.

As all my friends and family know, I am partial to taking a lot of photos. Too many, some might (and do!) say. I document everything – and everyone I ever go on holiday with (apart from James, my bridesman, who’s as enthusiastic as I am. “Al! Al! Take a photo of me looking nonchalant in this Hungarian subway!” etc) is driven mad by me making everyone line up and say cheese – or pout – every five minutes.

Not getting a videographer is often, apparently, a bride's biggest regret

Not getting a videographer is often, apparently, a bride’s biggest regret

But fast-forward ten, 15 years – more – and nobody ever regrets having ‘too many’ pictures of a holiday or a family party. Who is it that everyone comes to to go through photo albums and laugh about hilarious times at uni, foreign jaunts we’ve been on, misjudged hairstyles and outfits, how disheveled we looked (and we thought we were cool!) when we went backpacking on the other side of the world, family snaps – birthdays, get togethers, wedding anniversaries, new babies, Christmas – from way back?

Me, of course!

And what do I love even more than my thousands upon thousands of photos? My videos.

Nothing takes you straight back to a memory quite like a video. Hearing people’s voices, laughter, watching them move – it’s like they’re right there in the room with you and you’re reliving a moment that’s long gone. My grandpa, who passed away two and a half years ago, was an incredible jazz pianist. I have so many videos of him playing the piano at Christmas and at big family parties, with everyone dancing away as he bashed out a version of Sweet Georgia Brown with my Uncle Ron…These are precious memories that a photo can’t even begin to capture.

Which is why I spent ages and ages and ages convincing Sean that we absolutely 100% need a videographer on our big day.

“It’s a waste of money,” he argued at first. “Anyway, nobody will want to watch it but us.”

I did a lot of research on this in my bid to win him over. Apparently, not getting a videographer is one of the biggest wedding day regrets. Hardly surprising – the day goes by so quickly (so I’m told), and I bet you miss so much when you’re the bride and groom. Everyone I know who had a videographer to document their day tells me they can spend hours rewatching their wedding video and that every penny was well spent.

I’m happy to say Sean is now totally on board with this. He’s even planned which songs we’ll use in the video as background music. I think his change of heart is down to our amazing videographer Rachael. More about her in the next post…

May 13

Florist to the rescue

A few weeks ago I was having a panic about my bridesmaids’ dresses. In fact, that’s an understatement. I’d totally gone off them. I still loved the style, the length, the neckline… all of that. But the colour? Nope. I’d made a terrible mistake.

I don’t know whether it was because they were bought on the hop – before I’d even really had chance to think about what colour I wanted – but I’d convinced myself they just weren’t going to work with the overall colour scheme of the wedding. In fact, they’d changed the overall colour scheme of the wedding to something I really, really didn’t want.

Uh oh.

Flowers, flowers, more flowers...

Flowers, flowers, more flowers…

I’d worked myself up into a right tizz, putting in calls to my sister and inundating her with Facebook messages full of different dresses in different colours. Poor Verity. “Don’t worry, we can get new ones – it’s not too late!” she reassured me.

Sean, knowing I’d already spent our allocated bridesmaids’ budget on them, wasn’t so impressed with my change of heart, I have to say.

All this was the week before I had my first appointment with our florist Chris – a lady who lives in the same village as my grandma, who I’d asked to take charge of sorting out all our flowers. (On a side note, fellow brides-to-be – delegation is key! My grandma was more than happy to take on this job for me, I love her being included – and it was a weight off my mind. I live a couple of hundred miles away from our venue and trips back and forth are costly and time consuming.)

The Flower Lounge in Neston are doing all our flowers - and I'd highly recommend them to anyone else getting married in the area

The Flower Lounge in Neston are doing all our flowers – and I’d highly recommend them to anyone else getting married in the area

I took one of the dresses along to the appointment, which I went to with my mum and, of course, grandma. Needless to say, Sean was sitting this one out. I doubt any groom is ever going to be particularly fussed about the flowers…

I’d done no research into the names of the flowers I wanted – all I knew was the colours and overall ‘look’. But my florist, Chris, was brilliant. She was immediately on the same page as me, suggesting different sorts of flowers I’d never heard of, pulling out samples of foliage, reassuring me that it would all work and look gorgeous. I was impressed. She even offered to post me two of the main flowers we’d settled on so that I could take them with me when we go to choose Sean’s suit, to makes sure it all ties together nicely. Great service! Grandma had really played a blinder on this one.

Speaking of flowers... now that spring has finally sprung, London was looking gorgeous this May bank holiday. I snapped these daffodils in Greenwich Park and it made me think how pretty they'd be at a wedding around this time of year

Speaking of flowers… now that spring has finally sprung, London was looking gorgeous this May bank holiday. I snapped these daffodils in Greenwich Park and it made me think how pretty they’d be at a wedding around this time of year

After we’d sorted out a rough plan of how many table decorations, pedestal arrangements, corsages and buttonholes we’d need, and discussed what I want for my bouquet (shower bouquet or hand tied?) and my bridesmaids’ bouquets – plus baskets and wands for the little ones – I glumly pulled out the dress.

“It’s not going to work with this though, is it?” I asked, telling her the colour I thought might be better. She was horrified. “That would look terrible!” she exclaimed. “The dress you have is perfect. It’s going to be really unusual, and really striking.”


Well, if the professional says it works, then that’s good enough for me.

Apr 13

Wedding photographer found!

“What sort of photographer do you think we want?” I asked Sean, a couple of weeks prior to taking his mum up to the Wirral to visit our wedding venue for the first time. I’d decided to cram as many appointments as possible into our scheduled weekend visit, and that included meeting with potential photographers.

“Umm…” he replied. “A good one?”

Hmm. Helpful! And about as far as I’d got myself.


We already have some engagement photos displayed at home – and they’re nowhere near as important as the wedding pics will be. Finding the right photographer is one of the most crucial elements of planning a wedding.

Neither of us know the first thing about photography. All I know is that the pictures from our big day will be with us forever and ever and ever, so it’s pretty important that we like the end product. I was determined to get the right person for the job.

I phoned ahead to arrange appointments with a few local photographers whose websites I was impressed by.

(Honestly, wedding planning is just a series of meetings with different people – I don’t know what I’d do without my wedding planning diary. It was an engagement present from my lovely friend Rachel, which is even engraved with the words ‘Alex & Sean, the happy couple’ on a silver panel on the front. I love it!. Every bride-to-be needs one.)

My beloved – and now a bit battered – wedding planning diary, courtesy of my friend Rach

Turns out, choosing the photographer is a tricky business. There are so many different styles to think about.

There’s reportage photography, which tells the story of the wedding day (aren’t all photos supposed to tell the story of the wedding day?) candid photography, where you don’t know the photos are being taken (yikes! This definitely isn’t right for me – I don’t want to be caught unawares adjusting my dress or, heaven forbid, with a double chin), artistic wedding photography, which seems to be the sort that is done in sepia and looks like you’d hang it on your wall as ‘art’, even if you didn’t know the bride and groom…


I was beginning to get a bit overwhelmed by it all. (And at least I don’t even have the extra worry of the photographer we want being booked up – getting married on a Monday in October, we, unsurprisingly, seem to be able to have our pick of suppliers).

The best way to work out what you want is definitely just by asking the photographers if you can see wedding albums they’ve done in the past – preferably at the venue you’re getting married at too, to get a feel for which set ups you like and where the photos can take place.

We quickly ruled out arty and candid photography and soon realised that the photos we want are going to be pretty traditional.

Apparently at the moment there’s a shift away from group shots of family members gathered together for the formal wedding photos. But I definitely want that. I know my parents and grandparents would prefer that to arty shots of us staring into the distance in black and white, anyway. (Although we’ll definitely throw in a few of those for good measure!)

We eventually settled on an amazing photographer, Verity (also my sister’s name, it must be a sign). You can see some of the work she does here. She put us completely at ease – and let’s face it, if someone’s going to be with you for a large chunk of you wedding day, you certainly want them to do that – was an absolute pro, and more importantly, flicking through her albums that Sunday morning actually made me well up and get all teary.

They were perfect – exactly what I picture when I imagine us looking through our own treasured wedding album decades from now.

Another job sorted.

Jan 13

Venue and date – tick!

“This is the one,” I whispered to Sean, as my eyes welled up with tears. Happy tears, may I add. We were standing in the room we were going to get married in, and it was perfect.

We were on our all-important venue hunt, a couple of weeks before Christmas. In all honesty, though, our day out barely constituted a hunt. Our dream venue was only the third we’d seen, and we’d done it all in the space of four hours!

Our wedding venue!

Once the initial “Oh my God! We’re engaged!” phase had become normality, we both wanted to set a date quickly. I don’t like things up in the air so all the uncertainty of not knowing exactly when we were getting married, while simultaneously discussing our big day nonstop, was really starting to stress me out. And I know couples who have deliberated for weeks, if not months, over the venue. So we thought we’d best get cracking.

I have to say, I was expecting it to be far more difficult than it turned out to be. I suppose it was easy (ish!) for us, as we knew exactly where we wanted to get married from the outset. Because I want all my grandparents to be at our big day, and they may not fancy long plane journeys and the hassle of travel, we immediately dismissed the possibility of getting married on a beach somewhere exotic. Not to mention how frizzy my hair would look in the photos. Anyone who knows me will vouch for the fact that the combo of my hair and tropical climes doesn’t bear thinking about…

We also knew we were looking for a venue where we could not only hold the reception, but also tie the knot. I’m catholic but Sean isn’t religious, so as a compromise (the key to a successful marriage, I hear!) we decided to have a civil ceremony somewhere that looked chapel-ish.

A ‘chapel-ish’ room to tie the knot in…

Not only that, but I’ve always wanted to get married near to where I grew up, in the Wirral. The tradition of getting married where the bride is from isn’t so strong these days, but it’s something that certainly means a lot to me.

So with all that in mind and my mum and grandma on board doing plenty of research, we set about drawing up a shortlist of venues to look round – three, in the end – got in touch with them to arrange viewings, and promptly booked a train up to Chester.

I cannot wait to have our wedding breakfast in this room!

We went on our venue-viewing tour with my parents. And we were all in agreement – we loved the first place and really didn’t like the second (I actually think it was haunted – I came away with a terrible, uneasy feeling that I couldn’t shake off, and I had a nightmare about it that night!).

But as soon as we got out of the car at the third, Thornton Manor, we knew we loved it. It was absolutely everything we wanted from a venue. Grand yet homely, with friendly staff, gorgeous gardens that will look lovely in the Autumn – when we want to get married – an absolutely breathtaking room for the wedding breakfast, rooms for our guests to stay in overnight, and the most important element – a chapel-ish room to get married in.

Beautiful gardens for photos

It’s just so beautiful. And as we stood there in that room, my eyes prickling with tears and smiles plastered across our faces, we could all absolutely picture how incredible our wedding day is going to be.

We didn’t even need any time to mull over the decision. I’ve never been a big thinker when it comes to buying and booking things anyway – once my mind’s made up, that’s it. We got the diaries out immediately and set a date. So now we know that on October 21st this year, we will be getting married! And it will be in our absolute, dream venue.

Dec 12

Just engaged!

It’s been four whole weeks since I got engaged, and I still can’t quite believe it’s real. Every morning since my now-fiancé got down on one knee I’ve woken up and remembered I have a gorgeous, sparkling ring on my finger… and I get butterflies every time!

We were on a minibreak in Iceland, a country I’ve always wanted to visit, when he proposed two days before my birthday. Looking back on it now, he’d been behaving a bit strangely all day, getting panicky when his hand luggage was searched at Gatwick airport – “But Al, there’s nothing in there!” he insisted – and asking me incessant questions to try to establish my mood. “Are you grumpy? Are you in a good mood? Are you feeling happy, upset, a bit tired…?”



I’d been excited all day anyway – I love a good minibreak. I was even more excited once we arrived in Iceland and we transferred to a secluded resort in the (very) remote southern part of the island, where we had a gorgeous chalet to ourselves complete with outdoor Jacuzzi. It was freezing cold outside, the stars were so much brighter than they ever are in London, and the chalet was cosy and warm and super-chic… it really was romantic.

I still had no clue what was coming though, not even when, over dinner that night, he declared that he was going to buy a bottle of champagne for us to take back to the chalet and drink in the hot tub – to toast the first night of the holiday and my impending birthday.


Once we got back, though, I clocked that something was going on – and I was right. I hadn’t even had time to take off my coat and numerous items of knitwear when he nervously called me into the living room and, in what seems like slow-motion, got down on one knee. The whole time he was speaking to me I was thinking: “Oh my God! This is it! I must remember absolutely everything!” But I was so shocked, so happy, so overwhelmed and so tearful that I actually can’t remember a word he said. It’s all a big, fuzzy, happy blur. All I know is that it was perfect and he has made me the happiest girl in the world.

And that now, we have a wedding to plan!

Being engaged is brilliant. Everyone is so lovely – even the airline staff en route back from Reykjavic. Having not seen any of our friends and family, by the time the holiday was over I was bursting to tell people our news. “We’re engaged!” I exclaimed breathlessly to a sales assistant in Iceland, when I was buying a British wedding magazine I’d managed to find. The sales assistant didn’t seem too impressed by our news – but it didn’t deter me from telling more people. So, when the air hostess asked how our holiday had been when we boarded our WOW air flight back to London, I was surprised to see that news of our engagement had gone down well – and even seemed to have brought a smile to her face. We were incredibly touched when, about an hour into the flight, she announced over the intercom that a couple on board had just got engaged, and made everyone clap as she brought over some champagne. To us! It suddenly all felt very real…


So – I feel like the past few weeks have been a whirlwind of champagne, congratulations and devouring wedding magazines like they’re going out of fashion. But now it’s time to get down to business. My lovely friend Kath, who got married last September, told me to start with the venue and the date. So that’s precisely what I’m going to do…

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