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How to keep your wedding guests entertained during photos

Your wedding photographs are the one thing that remain once the wedding day is over to show all the little moments – your first dance, getting into your dress, and your first meal as a married couple.

But taking the perfect photos takes time, especially when you and your new husband or wife disappear off to have your photoshoot together.

No matter what part of the day you have your couple’s photoshoot, there may be a significant amount of time where you and your partner, the main stars of the show, disappear for an hour. But what are your guests going to do during this time?

I’ve had a think and have come up with some ideas on how to keep your wedding guests entertained during your photos.

 

If you’re having your photos during the drinks reception…

Lots of couples choose to have their photos during the drinks reception. This seems like a natural time. If you’re getting married at a church, people will be gradually arriving at your reception venue and receiving their welcome drinks and canapés. If you get married at a venue, it’s likely that they’ll want to turn the room around for your wedding breakfast.

So, if you want to have your photos taken during this time, there are a couple of entertainment options you can have.

The first is music. Hiring a string quartet, a pianist, a flautist, or even a singer to perform during your drinks reception is a great idea. Your guests won’t even notice that you’ve disappeared!

The second is games. If your venue has an outdoor space, you could hire some lawn games for your guests, particularly the children.

Finally, you could hire some bartenders who specialise in performance. Otherwise known as flair bartending, they can entertain your guests and throw glasses around while creating special cocktails for your guests.

 

Bride and groom posing outside amongst the grass

If you’re having your photos after your meal…

Some couples prefer to have their photos later on in the day. There’s usually a natural break between your wedding breakfast/speeches and the evening reception.

Say your wedding breakfast finishes at 5.30 but your evening guests aren’t arriving until 7, you have an hour and a half to have your photo shoot. This can be a beautiful time to have photos in spring or autumn as the sun usually sets around this time.

This would be an excellent time to have a photo booth set up for your guests or even something a little more quirky such as a caricaturist to draw people while they’re enjoying tea and coffee.

 

If you’re having your photos after your first dance…

This would be an unusual time to have your photos, but in the summer, it can still be light outside after 9pm. Make the most of the warm summer evenings and get some beautiful sunset photos.

But your guests need entertaining in the evening. DJs are still very popular so your guests can have a dance. Bands are also becoming increasingly popular. Although they’re more expensive, nothing equals the sound of a live band to create some amazing music.

Bride and groom dancing at sunset

How to start a wedding guest list

One of the most stressful parts of organising a wedding is the guest list. But where do you start?

You don’t want to annoy anyone, you don’t want to leave anyone out, and you definitely DO want your closest friends and family members there. But sometimes, family members begin to take over. You’ve got your Mum asking if so-and-so is coming and the best man has randomly invited his own plus one.

You need to sit down and decide exactly who you will and won’t be inviting. So, where do you start?

First, you need to consider how many people your venue can actually hold. The average UK wedding has around 120 guests but if your venue only allows 50 during the ceremony, you’ll need to keep this in mind before you invite over 100 guests.

Then, you need to think about the expense. Can you afford to feed all your guests twice? If the answer is no, consider getting married later, like 4pm, so your guests only have to be fed once OR cut down the number of people you want to invite.

Once you’ve decided how many people you can afford to invite, you can get stuck in with your list.

 

Create your columns

Before you start writing down names, you should use a piece of paper (or a Word document) to create three columns: A, B and C.

Your A list is the people you couldn’t imagine your wedding day without. Think about close friends and family that absolutely have to be at the ceremony.

Your B list is the people you’d like to invite but it isn’t the end of the world if they don’t come. This could be work colleagues, extended family members or friends that you haven’t spoken to or seen in a couple of years.

Your C list is like your reserve list. It’s the list of people that you’d like to be there but don’t currently have the space or budget for. If people from the A and B list can’t make it, then the people on your C list can get bumped up.

 

Think about who you know and where to put them

Now you have your A, B and C columns, you can start writing names into each one. Don’t forget to include yourselves! It’s likely this guest list will go to the caterers and you don’t want to leave the two most important people without food.

Don’t feel bad about putting people on the reserve list – you can’t invite everyone.

You should also remember to split the guest list 50/50 – you should choose 50% of the guests and your partner the other 50%. If you or your partner has a particularly big family, you could split it 60/40 but try to keep things as fair as possible.

 

Who to invite

If you’re struggling with who to invite, I’ve given you some helpful suggestions below!

Parents

Grandparents

Siblings

Nieces

Nephews

Step-parents

Step/half-siblings

Aunties

Uncles

Cousins

Great-Grandparents

University/college/school friends

Work colleagues

Friends you’ve met through hobbies, i.e. the gym/football

 

Who not to invite

There are some people that you shouldn’t invite, so have a think about the following when creating your guest list.

Don’t invite a friend or friends if you haven’t spoken to them or seen them in more than two years. The wedding is not a good time to catch up (you’ll be trying to talk to everyone so a long-depth conversation isn’t going to happen).

If you don’t want children at your wedding, that’s fine. Just be sure to let the parents know in plenty of time so they can arrange for a babysitter. If you don’t want children there, just address the invitation to the parents.

Don’t invite someone if you or your partner have never met or spoken to them.

Don’t invite people because you feel guilty. Maybe they invited you to their wedding, or they’re friends with lots of other people who are attending, but if you don’t really know or like them, don’t invite them.

dark blue wedding invitations on a white and gold background

 

How do you sent invitations to your reserve list?

You need to remember that people on your C list shouldn’t know they’re on your C list. If you’ve had a few people RSVP to say they can’t make it, you need to start inviting people from the reserve list. But, you can’t invite them two weeks before the wedding. It’s unlikely they’ll be able to make it and they’ll know they were second best. You’ll also need to change the RSVP deadline on your invitations. If the deadline has passed, this is a dead giveaway that they were reserves.

You should send out your invitations around six months before the wedding. Then, send your reserve invitations around three months before the wedding.

 

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What flowers do I need for my wedding?

There is so much to think about when it comes to your wedding, it’s no surprise that it can be difficult to keep on top of everything. Particularly when there’s so many traditions to follow.

And when it comes to tradition, choosing your flowers can be a tough decision to make. You have no idea what flowers are in season or when, or even what half of their names are.

But having photographed many weddings, I thought writing a post on the subject would be worthwhile. Here’s what flowers you need to think about for your wedding and what to do with them.

 

What flowers do I need?

First you need to think about the personal flowers, or the flowers that particular people need. This includes:

  • Bride’s bouquet
  • Bridesmaids’ bouquets
  • Button holes
  • Corsages
  • Bride’s hair flowers (if required)
  • Flower girl’s bouquet (if required)

Obviously your bouquet is the most important. But following on from there, your bridesmaids will all need bouquets. Will they just be mini versions of yours, or will they have different flowers in them?

Then there’s the button holes and the corsages. I’ll talk more about these below, but they’re traditionally given to the bride and groom’s parents, as well as the ushers and the best man.

Then there’s the flowers for the church:

  • Pew decoration
  • An altar display
  • Pedestals
  • Confetti for guests to throw

All of the above is optional. You don’t have to decorate the church with flowers, however it’s normally advised to have at least one pedestal. Biodegradable confetti should be available from your florist. If not, you can buy it online and have it shipped to your home address, ready to be put into cones.

Pew decorations are an additional expense, but they can be so simple and look lovely.

Flowers tied with a ribbon on a church pew

 

The flower pictured above is called ‘Baby’s Breath’, otherwise known as Gypsophlia. It’s a very good choice for weddings because it’s so cost effective.

Finally, onto your reception flowers:

  • Centrepieces
  • Flower arches
  • Flower wall
  • Bar decorations
  • Flowers for the cake
  • Flowers for the cake table

Don’t forget that your pedestals from the church can be carried over to your reception venue, and the bridesmaids’ bouquets could be used to decorate the cake table.

Bridesign even suggests purchasing an extra bouquet to toss, however you can use one of the bridesmaids’.

It’s up to you how many flowers you want. Some people love the look they give, particularly in a more understated venue. However, you can also hire false centrepieces which could work out cheaper.

Flower arches and flower walls have been very popular over the last few years, ever since Kim Kardashian had a flower wall at her wedding in 2014.

 

 

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Who wears buttonholes and corsages at weddings?

If you want to follow tradition, there are certain people that you’re required to give buttonholes and corsages to. They are:

  • Groom
  • Parents of the bride and groom
  • Best man
  • Usher (x2)

If you follow the above, you will need 6 buttonholes and 2 corsages.

However, there are more and more families that have separated and remarried, so the bride might now have a father and a step-father. And you may want to give your grandparents them as well.

Essentially, you can give buttonholes and corsages to whoever you want, but just keep an eye on the cost. It could be around £5 per one.

 

What to do with your wedding flowers after the wedding

Unfortunately, flowers are one of the things that won’t live forever after your wedding day, but you can’t bring yourself to just throw them away.

You could give the bridesmaids bouquets away, either to the bridesmaids or, if they’re okay with it, to other members of your family to take home and put in water.

You could press some flowers so that you can have them framed and hung on the wall.

Finally, there is a process that you can now pay for where your flowers are chemically preserved and framed in boxes.

Chemically preserved wedding flowers to keep after the wedding

Photo credit: https://floraforever.co.uk

These flowers have been dried so they will stay this way forever. You can have a framed box made or you can have them in a cubed glass box that sits on your coffee table. It’s a wonderful way to keep your wedding flowers forever.