This was my first official Covid wedding and I've decided to blog this one from my own point of view, still telling the story of the day, albeit a lot shorter day but this time from behind the camera and the things I noticed from photographing a restricted wedding.
Well it's been an absolutely awful 12 months for everyone, socially distancing from one lockdown to the next, businesses opening and closing as per the restrictions and various tiers due to covid. It's been a year to forget and one that will be remembered for a long time to come.
One of the worst hit areas has been the wedding industry and it looks like it'll be a good while longer yet before wedding start getting something a bit more like normal making it closer to 18 months.
This was the penultimate wedding of the year for me (out of a huge 4 weddings) and on a personal level, we've found ourselves in the same position as so many Brides and Grooms in having to make new plans for the big day and having had to postpone our own wedding twice now. By the time we get married, hopefully September this year, we'd have already missed out on celebrating our first wedding anniversary. So for everyone that has found themselves in the same position having to reschedule and rebook everything from the venue to the florist I really do know what it's been like and I feel for you all.
I do have say though, in spite of everything this year, I really have loved shooting these smaller, more intimate weddings. After photographing many weddings over the last few years it's been very different for me seeing weddings stripped right back to what the wedding is essentially all about, the couple, making a commitment to each other, showing one another along with a handful of their very closest family and friends just how much they love and mean to each other without all the other "stuff" that tends to come along with your usual wedding.
That is really what it's all about after all.
As I said earlier, with being in and out of lockdown it's been touch and go whether weddings could go ahead from one week to the next and how many guests they'd be allowed to have attend, so Aimee and Miguel only booked me for their wedding just a few weeks before their little, big dayas it had just been announced that weddings could once again go ahead, although with a limit of 15 guests to the ceremony although no reception afterwards.
As I arrived at St.Helens town hall to wait for Miguel and the wedding guests to start to arrive it was strange seeing town so quiet, especially for a Saturday afternoon as their was barely anyone around, it made it a lot easier to spot the wedding guests as they walked up to the town hall though. Miguel and his Best Man were first arrive looking sharp in their suits and styling out the compulsory facemasks, snapping them as they walked up and a quick fist bump to say hello rather than the usual handshakes. As per the restrictions and as part of making weddings covid secure, there wasn't the usual time for taking photographs outside as they both had to head straight into the town hall to use the hand sanitiser and a socially distanced meet up with the registrars.
Again with so few guests allowed at the time, there wasn't too long stood around outside taking photographs as they were also taken straight in and to their seats, all very efficient and just in time before Aimee. met on the steps by her Dad arrived pulling up in front of the town hall in a lovely white Jag ready to go marry her man.
It was certainly very different walking into a ceremony room and seeing it so empty, the room looked huge with pairs of seats spread out at a distance rather than the rows and rows of seats you'd normally get but it meant you actually noticed how nice the room was and all the details, the stained glass windows, the wood panelling, ornate carvings, paintings and period features, it's actually pretty grand in there, I don't think I'd have noticed things like that normally when the room is a lot fuller, it's a shame really because it's actually a lovely room to get married in.
I can't think I've ever shot any weddings were all the windows have been wide open for ventilation either! With so few guests allowed during the ceremony it meant I had to think about what I was doing a lot more, because it becomes second nature and sometimes you can be guilty of almost going into autopilot. So from choosing were to stand and with actually having space rather than being squashed in a corner by the registrar and with more options of where to put myself, it was nice thinking about carefully composing shots so the focus was still on the couple but also so that it didn't look like they were stood at the front of a nearly empty room. As I mentioned before, these stripped back weddings really do become all about the couple and why they're actually there, so having the chance to step back a bit and think about what I was doing during the ceremony it also gave me the time to think about and reflect more the emotion of it all, don't get me wrong when it's a full wedding day you still see all the same emotion but it's at different times throughout the day whereas on these shorter covid weddings everything seems to be more concentrated and emotion is taken to another level! Maybe it's because I've only been there for the ceremony and instead of seeing those moments throughout the day, it really does feel as though emotions are amplified and squeezed into that shorter period of time. I know that just because I'm not there to capture it all, there will still be the same hustle and bustle on the wedding morning, the hair and makeup and everyone getting ready but as a wedding photographer I can fairly confidently say that I've seen pretty much everything there is to see on a wedding day and I'm absolutely not saying these things aren't important, of course they are, they're all part of making it your vision of the day if you like, so whether your vison involves having a limo or a horse drawn carriage or releasing white doves from a birdcage then go for it, wanting 4ft light up letters that spell out LOVE or MR & MRS have them! A flower wall or a moon gate, a magician or a caricaturist, a chocolate fountain or a sweet cart, have anything you want but just keep in mind why you're getting married rather than getting caught up in all the trimmings that couples almost seem to feel obliged that they have to have.
So if you find yourself in the same boat and having to curtail your own plans don't worry, honestly! These small intimate weddings are every bit as beautiful, only now it shifts the focus solely onto the couple, the emotion of it all and serves as a valuable reminder of just why they're there and what they're about to do.
After the ceremony we were only allowed a short amount of time for a few more traditional. formal photographs on the ornate staircase with the new Mr & Mrs Santos-Elias and then it was back outside with the newlyweds. making the most of the colourful flower beds in front of the town hall as their wedding guests headed off to wait for the happy couple and a lovely intimate sit down meal at a local restaurant in St.Helens as sadly the usual wedding receptions and a huge party afterwards weren't allowed to take place.