THREE FACTS: (1) Jennifer and Charlie first met when they were just 17 years old! (2) They are planning an intimate elegant black tie trad(ish)ional Jewish wedding incorporating plenty of personal touches, their sense of humour, and love of all things rose gold (3) Jennifer is a wedding photographer herself so is planning her wedding as an industry insider!
Working in the Wedding Industry
When Charlie and I set the date for our wedding, I naively assumed planning the wedding would be easy.
Working as a wedding photographer within the industry, I knew exactly which suppliers I wanted on the day, so I presumed that wedding planning would be a breeze…
Well working within the wedding industry definitely has its perks. Having attended more weddings than I can count, I have been able to make a mental list of my favourite suppliers. Being able to watch different photographers, videographers, toastmasters, bands and florists doing their job to make each clients wedding day perfect for them has allowed me to know what I want for our wedding.
Image by David Pullum from Shier and Xander’s wedding (soon on Smashing The Glass)
Before Your Wedding Day
The most important piece of advice I can give in regards to choosing a supplier is to feed in to how comfortable and confident they make you feel. Yes, you can love the way the band sounds when you sneak into the back of a function to watch them, but if in that meeting, they do not make you feel that they are truly invested in your wedding, I would say keep searching until you find someone who does.
Recommendation is incredibly important. In any creative industry (and trust me, you have to be creative to work on weddings!), word of mouth is paramount.
Working with PTP, the majority of our clients come to us because we have been recommended or they have seen us in action at a wedding. This works both ways.
Your supplier should always be willing to recommend others. If your photographer recommends a videographer, ask them why; it is so important to have a personal opinion.
Most suppliers (even if they don’t want to admit it) have preferences of who they would work with on an event. This is not because of who is better or worse, but because having a team of people who all get on, who know each other and know how to work together is the ultimate recipe for a smooth running event.
I am lucky enough to know that after working for years with Paul Toeman Photographers, Denee Motion, The Function Band and Jamie Paskin that we are a solid team, and our wedding is completely safe in their hands.
Image by Ori Carmi from Sara and Ronen’s wedding (soon on Smashing The Glass)
On Your Wedding Day
I cannot express how crucial it is to look after your suppliers on the wedding day. If you can, make sure the crew room (where everyone can store their things, take a break and eat), isn’t a million miles away from the main event.
It is a nightmare going back and forth when the crew room isn’t nearby! Feeding your crew properly is the biggest issue that happens ‘backstage’ at weddings. Be brutal with your caterer/venue co-ordinator. There is nothing worse than working a 12 hour day to find your only meal is cold pasta, cold chips or even KFC (true story).
Some caterer’s planners will tell you the crew is getting the same meal. My advice, check that they do! Or send someone to check for you. So often, they are getting a much cheaper meal and the difference goes into someone else’s pocket.
For our wedding, I have made a spreadsheet of each supplier, the number of people they have working with them and their dietary preferences; the amount of times I have seen crew members who are vegetarian not getting a proper meal infuriates me. This may all sound very obvious; however there is no harm in making sure everything is covered. Having a well-fed crew means having a happy crew on your wedding day.
The hardest part of wedding planning has been the organisation required. I am, by nature, an obsessively organised person. If there is a spreadsheet to be done or a mood-board to be made, I am your woman!
Nothing could have prepared me for the amount of time and energy required to plan a wedding. It really is a full time job. I am very lucky that Charlie has been so incredibly involved, and the shared Dropbox folder is a testament to us. The only thing I would have done differently (if I had the budget) would have been to hire a planner. It would have been wonderful to have somebody to deal with all the emails, the negotiating with suppliers and last minute tasks.
Image by Chiko Photography from Mel and Mitch‘s wedding
Always The Photographer, Never The Bride
Having worked as part of the wonderful PTP team for the last seven years I have attended a lot of weddings. You will have seen me, either laughing with the bride and bridesmaids as they get ready, helping the groom and groomsmen put on their buttonholes, crouched in the aisle, roaming around the reception, in the middle of Israeli dancing… I am your wedding photographer.
What better place to collate years of experience into some handy tips to make your wedding the most photogenic it can possibly be than in a Smashing the Glass post!
There are so many elements to a Jewish (or Jew-ish) wedding that can be tailored to suit the couple, however all Jewish weddings follow a format and this where my advice (strictly from a photographer’s point of view) may be useful.
Brides — when you are getting ready, if it is at all possible, ask your Hair & Makeup artist to position you by a window. This way you will be able to see how you look in natural light (not under yellow hotel room lights) and your photographer will get the most beautiful pictures of you. Natural light is your skins own real life Instagram filter, so use it whenever you can.
Don’t have too many people in the room when you are getting ready. I have seen so many brides become stressed out and overwhelmed by the sheer volume of people and noise around them. Getting ready should be one of the calmest parts of your day.
The number of grooms and groomsmen who have no idea how to put on a buttonhole does make me laugh. I am always more than happy to help out with this, however it means I may miss those wonderful moments when dad puts a buttonhole onto the groom, or the best man is helping. If you are unsure how to do it, ask your florist, they should always be available to lend a hand.
Image by Grace Pham from Lauren and Phil‘s wedding
The Tisch & Bedeken
The Tisch and Bedeken are the places where I always get some of my favourite and most intimate pictures from a couple’s special day. It pains me when the Tisch or Bedeken room looks like somewhat of an after thought.
In some venues, this is not an issue, as there can be lots of beautiful rooms to choose from. Others however, will offer you a bland, conference style room for your Tisch/Bedeken.
If this is the case, some simple decoration can go a long way. You can drape a wall in white fabric for a Bedeken (which creates a clean backdrop), or ask your production supplier to strategically place some lighting. These are easy measures to insure that one of the most beautiful parts of your wedding looks beautiful.
If you are planning on having an ‘open’ Bedeken (in the aisle), ignore everything above!
Image by Steven Carter-Hewson from Amanda and Adam‘s wedding
The Main Event (The Wedding Ceremony)!
The wedding ceremony is the most important, spiritual part of your day. Photographically, everything is already there – a beautiful Chuppah, bride and groom and their families and friends.
There are a few things that can amplify this already wonderful setting to create photographs you will treasure forever. If at all possible, make sure your Rabbi stands behind you (facing out to the guests) so that they and your photographer can get a clear, unobstructed view. Keep looking at each other; you are the two most important people under the Chuppah!
Have space for everyone; this includes your photographer and videographer (if you have one). We never ever want to get in the way; the more space there is to quietly move around and take pictures, the better it is for everyone.
If you want to have a picture of yourself and your new husband walking back down the aisle, I would recommend asking your toastmaster to make an announcement before the ceremony starts, this way your guests won’t rush into the Chuppah, which can make for a messy exit. If you want everyone dancing with you under the Chuppah, that’s fantastic! Your photographer should be there too, getting those shots.
As a photographer, one thing I find the hardest about photographing weddings is that everyone has a mobile phone. Sometimes this makes for great pictures, such as a guest taking selfies with the couple, or even shooting through someone’s phone to frame a picture.
However, there is nothing worse when I am trying to shoot in the aisle, looking towards the Chuppah and someone leans out, huge iPhone in hand and gets into my shot. I also personally believe that the wedding ceremony is sacred; by using a phone you are no longer experiencing the moment in the present. You have also paid a professional to be there, those pictures will have nothing on an iPhone photo!
At our wedding, there will be a request for no phones during the ceremony, I am more than happy for my guests to use them at any other time during our day.
Image by Cory Ryan Photography from Lindsay and Ben‘s wedding
The Reception & The Rest Of The Evening
If you are having family photographs (commonly taken during the reception), make sure either your toastmaster or a groomsman / bridesmaid has the shot list. Your photographer will know whom your immediate family is, however they might not know your extended family. Having someone who can locate them quickly means your family photos will run smoothly and you can hopefully have some time to enjoy the reception with your guests.
Once Israeli dancing starts, for the photographer, this is the home straight as everything now happens in the same place. There are only a few pieces of advice I have for this part of the day (I promise!). First and foremost, make sure your photographer eats at the same time as your guests eat. This way, they will not miss any key moments. This is also a good reason to have two photographers, especially if you have over 100 guests; there is no chance for a moment to be missed as two photographers can “tag team” throughout the day.
Think about where the speeches will take place when you visit your venue. The perfect spot for pictures is when the speaker faces towards the top table. This way the speaker and those listening (especially bride/parents/Best Man/Maid of Honour) are easier to photograph.
When the speeches happen from the top table, it can be hard to get flattering shots as the photographer will either crouch on the ground (so as not to obstruct anyone’s view), or will have to be further away to stand and get a clear shot. If the speaker is standing facing the top table there is more room to be creative with the imagery, such as shooting over the shoulder of the speaker, to the face of the person listening.
Equally, what is in the background behind the speaker is just as important. Most speeches happen on the dance floor, so think about the decoration. If you have a separate room for dining/dancing and the speeches are in the dining room, stand where your top table will be and look out, choose your favourite spot you can see in the room for the speeches to happen.
Image by David Pullum from Natasha and Tal‘s wedding
Now, I can’t give away all the tricks of the trade; all of these pointers I have written of do not have to be thought about by you on the day. These are merely measure that can be taken beforehand to ensure you love your wedding pictures.
Everything else your photographer will capture are the best moments; the natural bursts of joy and love that happen at a wedding. Choose your photographer based on these images, because they are the ones you have to have a real ‘eye’ to get.
Image by Shanna Jones from Kelly and Gavin‘s wedding
Click here to read all Jennifer’s planning posts to date.
Jennifer & Charlie’s Wedding Vendors booked so far:
Photography — Paul Toeman Photographers
Videography – Denee Motion
DJ Live – The Function Band
Hair + Makeup – Camilla J Collins
Childcare – Safe and Sound Events
Venue – Dartmouth House
Design – Event Bureau
Toastmaster – Jamie Paskin
Cantor – Paul Heller
Ketubah – Jennifer Raichman
Tallis – Jerusalem The Golden
Rings – Posh Totty Designs