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How to Plan a Destination Wedding

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We thought it would be a great idea to put together a blog post to help other couples who are considering getting married abroad. We asked Amira the in's and out's of how she planned her wedding and below you'll find out how!

Choose a meaningful location

1. How did you choose your wedding location?

As I'm dual heritage, I spent a lot of time in Morocco growing up, so it has a special significance to me and my family. Greg and I have also holidayed there and have great memories of time spent in Marrakech, so we quickly settled on this location when we decided on a destination wedding.
 

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2. What appealed to you most about the wedding venue? How did you set about planning it?

The rich culture and colourful backdrop of Marrakech appealed to us, as well the short flight time. The boutique hotel location was small enough we could hire it in its entirety, which made it feel very personal and special. 

We used local wedding planners Boutique Souk to help us plan it.

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Notify guests well in advance

3. How far in advance did you invite your family/wedding guests?

We sent Save The Dates at the beginning of the year with brief details of the wedding in October. Formal detailed invites followed around 5 months later.

4. What were peoples responses to the idea of getting married abroad?

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Everyone was very positive and excited. Of course there were a few people who couldn't make it but far less than we imagined. 

5. What percentage of guests made it to the wedding?

About 80%

6. How did you plan your guestlist? Were children invited? If so how did you cater for them?

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Partners and children were invited although most people chose not to bring children and take advantage of a short trip away. There were only close family children there- 5 in total. They were offered a children's menu on the day if they wished. 

Embrace the setting

7. Did you use all local suppliers?

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Yes except for the invites and other stationery such as seating plan and table name cards which was designed by my sister and made in the UK.

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8. How did you find them?

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Mostly via the wedding planner, although I sourced the mini tagine pots for favours myself in the souk and had custom made M&Ms made in the UK to fill them.

9. What elements did you incorporate into the day that complimented your surroundings?

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Colour scheme of the bridesmaid dresses was a deep blue which is used often in the architecture in Marrakech and is famous in the local Jardin Majorelle which is a garden once owned by Yves Saint Laurent. This was also reflected in table details such as the napkin rings and favours. 

Guests were given personalised fans in case of the heat and the flowers were local Atlas roses in pale pink.

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10. Were there any other suppliers that weren't local?

Champagne was brought over via duty free on planning trips.

Hire a planner

11. How important do you think it was to hire wedding planner?

Extremely. We weren't convinced we would use one initially as myself and my family did have local knowledge but they made everything very easy and stress free.

12. How did you find the right one for you?

We had heard of them as they had done some quite high profile events. We looked at their website which had examples of previous work and we loved their style. We met up with them on a planning trip and they were lovely and easy to work with. I had a clear vision of what I wanted and they really helped to bring that to life. 

13. How often did you communicate with your planner in the lead up to the wedding?

We had 2 brief trips to the destination and a few Skype consultations. Other than that communication was via email or WhatsApp. 

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Visit in advance

14. Did you visit your venue in advance? 

Yes we visited a few venues and picked Palais de L'o.

15. How much in advance?

Around 8 months and again at 4 months.

16. What did you organise on your first visit?

Venue, planners, date, general themes, some table settings and some of the food.

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17. Who did you take with you?

Myself, fiance, mum and sister on first trip. Greg's parents on second trip to organise details.

Tailor your wedding dress to your destination

18. Where did you get your dress/shoes from?

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Me- Dress: Justin Alexander, shoes: Jimmy Choo

Greg- Suit: James Michaelsberg tailoring, shoes: Churches

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19. How did you transport the dress on the aeroplane?

Dress box as carry on.

Budget

 20. How did you plan your budget? What things were most important to you?

At the start estimated how much the essentials were such as venue/ food/ outfits/ travel and roughly how much we had left to spend on decor etc. As people were travelling and it would be expensive for them it was important we were able to have an open bar on the day and plan gatherings the day before and after if people wanted to join in.

21. Did you stick to your budget?

No! We upped it a bit towards the end to add some extra details.

22. Were there any unexpected expenses?

Only when I got carried away adding things such as a light up poolside cocktail bar!

23. Do you feel this was a cheaper option/more expensive option than getting married in the UK?

We probably would have spent the same but I think we got a higher end event for the budget than we would have had in the UK.

Venue

24. Did you have a backup plan in case of bad weather?

There was space to set up and eat indoors if we needed to. 

25. Was it all-inclusive?

No. The wedding venue was hired exclusively for us for 3 days and all the guests stayed at least this long. It was bed and breakfast and we organised a welcome dinner the day before the wedding, all food and drink the day of and a late brunch the day after.

26. How far in advance did you arrive at your destination before the wedding day?

5 days

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27. How did you prepare in the days before your wedding?

A few days relaxing with family in another hotel before moving to the location. We just caught up with he planners, had a run through with the groomsmen and bridesmaids and put together the favours. We also had a traditional tea and henna ceremony the day before the wedding for all the female guests. I wore traditional dress and we had local ladies to do henna designs on anyone who wanted it. 

Legality

28. Did you have to legally get married beforehand?

Yes in the UK.

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29. Do you need insurance?

Yes we purchased this.

30. Did you prefer to have a UK photographer over picking a local one?

Yes, we liked to be able to see some examples of their work on line and know we could communicate with them and they understood what we were looking to capture the event.

Finally! Do you have any top tips to share with our brides that may be planning a destination wedding? Was there anything that you would have changed? What was your biggest highlight to getting married abroad?

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Go with somewhere which holds a special significance to you but be aware it's likely some your guests won't be able to make it.

Use a local wedding planner if you can and communicate with them regularly.

I used Pinterest to gather ideas to influence the overall look of the wedding. Personalise it but don't get too bogged down in the small details. Most of all enjoy the process because the day goes by in a flash.

The best things about the destination wedding for us was having everyone there together for at least three days instead of just having one day to enjoy. 

 

We hope you've found this blog post helpful. Please feel free to ask any questions if you have any. Photographing destination weddings for us is a dream. We love to travel and so when our work takes us somewhere amazing like this, we feel extremely grateful. If you're considering getting married abroad, get in touch with us as we'd love to hear more! Special rates are available for destination weddings :)

 

 

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Taking Better Photos on Your Phone

Up until recently, we'll be honest and say 90% of our every day photos are taken on our phones. As photographers with really good cameras, you may think why would we opt for using our phones over expensive cameras? And the reason is simple. We are full-time mums and our lives are busy. We simply use what we always have on us. It's easy and convenient, and that's what you need if you are making the effort to document your life on a daily basis. Sometimes we kick ourselves for not making the effort to get our 'proper' cameras out. But 9/10 we'll take the quick phone shot of our children, over missing the moment whilst we run off to get the big camera out. Having perfectly exposed, great quality images is of course important to us, but sometimes it's the imperfect, slightly blurry moment captured on your phone, that can turn out to be your favourite. 

We're guessing that most of you too, use your phones to capture photos of your daily life and we're here to give you a few tips on how to improve them.

1. FIND YOUR FOCUS
Decide what it is in your frame that you want to be in focus. Tap your screen and a square or circle (depending on your phone) should appear. This lets your phone know exactly what needs to be in focus. If you're taking a photo for Instagram, we suggest taking your photo outside of the app and then importing them in (for a much better quality image). The camera within Instagram doesn't have image stabilisation - helping combat shaky hands and it doesn't allow the features we talk about below.

2. COMPOSITION
The 'rule of thirds' is a golden rule within photography and simply put, means you can align things within your image to help you frame the shot and make the image visually more interesting. Without getting too technical, go into your camera settings and turn the grid ON. This will help you to compose your images. If you want to read more into this, there are plenty of articles online.

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3. EXPOSURE
Once you've selected your focus by tapping on the screen, you'll notice a little 'sun' icon appear to the right of the square. You can move this up and down to adjust the expose. If you find the image a little on the dark side, move the sun up and this will make the image brighter. Be careful not to over-expose though, you want to make sure you still have all the detail in the highlights. Slightly under-expose (make darker) is a safe option as you can fix in the editing.

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4. LIGHTS OFF
Try to always work with the natural light around you - artificial lighting from ceiling lights causes horrible colour casts and you want to avoid this where possible. Window light is your friend! If you can, move your subject towards the window light and have them either facing the light (so the light is behind you) or side on.

5. USE YOUR HANDS
Whilst shooting into the light on a DSLR can make some beautiful images, it's harder to control when using your phone. Hold your hand out in front of you and see how the light falls across the back of your hand. Does it fall into shadow? Move it around and see how the light changes. This is so simple but is a really great trick to work out the best lighting. When you work out where the light looks the nicest across your hand, you'll know which direction to have your subjects face. 

6. EDITING
There are so many editing apps you can use but a firm favourite of ours is VSCO. It's free to download with lots of free filters. If you are looking to take your photography up a gear, and happy to spend a bit, there are in-app purchases too. The pricing is really reasonable, paying about 99p for a filter and upgrading to VSCO X gives you access to all their filters and the ability to edit videos too - giving your work a really consistent look.

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There are so many filters to choose from within different apps and the obvious way to edit your photos is through Instagram. However, our advice is to stay away from those filters! But decide what YOU like and find one that suits your style. Our advice is to use the filter after you've got the exposure nailed, and use them sparingly! VSCO gives you the ability to control how much of the filter is used on the image. Our style is very natural, so it's important to us to not go too crazy with adjustments. But again, find what works for you. Once you have the image just as you want, you can save to camera roll straight from the app and have the image ready to use however you like (and upload to Instagram from there).

We hope you've found these tips helpful! Let us know if you try any of them out! xo

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How To Plan Stress-Free Group Shots

We all know the importance of group shots at weddings. This is generally the only day in your life where you have everyone you love the most, in one place. Why wouldn't you get some images of you together? However, these images can sometimes be stressful to arrange. Here are our top tips on how to avoid the stress, and work quickly through them so you can get back to mingling and having a great time!

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PLAN CAREFULLY
Try to limit the total number of groups to 8-10 (or fewer if possible).
 
Think back to when you have been a guest at a wedding… which wedding was the best: the one where you spent an hour being called out for photographs? Or the one where you don’t even remember the photos taking place?
We think we know the answer! For this reason, try to keep your list of group shots to a minimum. Sit down with your fiancé before the wedding and work out who you want in each shot. Be realistic and ask yourself why you want these photos. Will they go in the album, a frame or on the wall? And maybe if they’ll go in none of these places, then perhaps they aren't necessary after all. 
 

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LEAVE ENOUGH TIME
We aim to do the group shots in 20 – 30 minutes. Because at the end of the day, this is your wedding day, so we aim to get you back to your party as soon as possible!
The average time to get people to the location and set up for group photographs is roughly 3-5 minutes per shot. If you opt for an “everybody” shot, this can take much longer (approx. 10-15 minutes).

PHOTOGRAPHERS HELPER
We don't know everyone at your wedding, so delegate the job of rounding up the guests to a member of the wedding party, normally an usher or bridesmaid (or both) and make sure they are on hand to work with us. Your group shots will be much more efficient and painless if you have your groups ready and waiting to be photographed. Make sure everyone who is in a group shots knows in advance when and where they will be needed. You don’t want Nan nipping off to the loo at the crucial moment!

NOT EVERYONE LIKES THEIR PHOTO TAKEN
Not everyone wants their photo taken. At least one guest will shy away and try to hide behind someone else. This can prolong the photographs and make for an awkward image. If this is the case, we don’t mind, but it’d be great to let us know or just discreetly let them know they can opt out of the image if they wish.

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TICK TO THE PLAN
We will ask you for the list of group shots before the wedding day - please try and stick to that list as best as possible. There have been occasions when a family relative has ‘hijacked’ us and asked us to take numerous unscheduled group shots. This eats into personal time with your guests and your portraits - a situation best avoided. So be decisive with your group list, and stick with it!
It’s also good to have a backup plan for the location of the shots. You may want them on the steps outside of the church, but you may find it rains or the sun is too harsh on the day. Trust in us and we’ll find the perfect setting for your images!

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GET CREATIVE
Think how these photos are going to look in frames around your home! Providing you only have a short shot-list, make the most of this time and get creative. Trust in us to choose a great backdrop (lighting is the most important thing, there is nothing worse than everyone squinting because it’s so bright) and have fun. Allow some time for fun images of your Bridal Party (Bridesmaids and Groomsmen) too!

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KEEPING IT RELAXED
It’s often possible to capture some lovely images while people are actually moving into position or waiting for the photography to start. These can sometimes make nicer shots than the ones where people are looking at the camera. Give someone the job of keeping everyone’s glass filled up. Keeping everyone hydrated will keep everyone smiling and often more co-operative! It’s a good idea to mention this to your venue.

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IT'S YOUR DAY
Above everything... this is YOUR day. It's only going to happen once. We want to make sure you’re happy with your decisions regarding group shots. If you want lots, that’s totally fine with us. Just make sure the suggested time is allowed.
 
We hope you’ve found this information useful! Jade and Emma xx

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Emma & Ashley Engagement Shoot

We had the privilege of going to Cyprus to document the wedding of Emma and Ashley and we had an amazing time! Our second destination wedding didn't disappoint and we're so excited to share the images with you.

We captured Emma's Mum's wedding the previous year, and when she asked us if we'd be the photographers for her wedding, of course we had to say yes! An amazing family, full of love and who love to party! We knew documenting their wedding would be a lot of fun.

We met with Emma and Ashley the day before the wedding, went over final details and then did a pre-wedding shoot just before sunset.

Here are some of our favourites from the pre-wedding/ Engagement shoot... 

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5 top tips for planning your Wedding Photography

Here are some tips that we hope you'll find useful. There is so much to think about whilst planning your wedding, so below you'll find our TOP TIPS for getting the most out of your Wedding Photography.

1. SPACE
It’s important to consider your surroundings when deciding where you’ll get ready on the morning of your wedding. You could choose to get ready at your own home, your parents’ house, or maybe a hotel. Wherever it is, please pay attention to the space you’ll have around you. Once you have your makeup artist, hairdresser and other bridal party members in the room with you, plus a photographer and potentially a videographer, it can get a little crowded! So plan ahead. Think about who will be there with you on the morning of the wedding and try to find somewhere with enough room for all of you.

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2. LIGHT
Consider the light. A top tip from us is to turn off artificial light in the room - it can set off a really horrible colour in the photos and that’s definitely something to be avoided. Natural and directional side light coming through windows is beautiful and ensures much more flattering imagery.

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3. TIMING
It’s all in the timing. We can't stress this enough! Allow more time to get ready than you think. Our advice is to have bridesmaids all dressed and ready to go 1 hour before you are due to leave for the ceremony. This then allows them time to help you into your dress, leaving plenty of time for beautiful portraits of you all before leaving. With some careful planning, we can help you to get the best out of your time with us.

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4. DAYLIGHT
Light plays a huge part in the final result of your images. And that’s why we feel we need to talk about it some more! Weddings in the summertime obviously have greater amount of daylight - giving more outdoor photo opportunities. Weddings in the summer allow for beautiful golden-hour light in the evenings, which is perfect for portraits. This is so important to consider if these are the types of images that you’re hoping for. Remember to schedule this time in with your Wedding Planner/ Co-ordinator, as this will likely fall within your wedding meal. If you are getting married in the winter, daylight is limited - so it is worth considering a First Look and planning your ceremony as early as possible to make the most of the natural light.

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5. TRUST US AND RELAX!
We hope that if you’ve booked us to shoot your wedding, then it’s because you love what we do! It’s our job to capture your day, so let us do just that, whilst you relax and have the best day. When you’re happy and smiling and having fun - it’s an absolute joy to photograph. There may be things that don’t always go to plan. We get it - you’ve planned, planned and planned some more for this day. So when something doesn’t quite go right, it can be upsetting. But honestly, try to relax and just go with the flow. Let go of the small stuff and enjoy everything about the day.

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We hope you’ve found some of these tips helpful! If you’re looking for a wedding photographer in Northamptonshire, Derbyshire or beyond - get in touch!

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