Friday, 27 January 2012

Winter Weddings at Waterton Park: Chris Chambers Photography Workshop

On Monday, I had the pleasure of attending one of Chris Chambers Workshops which was to be held at Waterton Park Hotel, a local venue to myself and one I have photographed a few times. I wanted to look at the venue with a fresh pair of eyes, get some ideas, but more importantly, see what tips I could pick up.

We met on the Island at 11am, and armed with camera and lens', flashgun and a notepad, we were set to go.

A few bits inside discussing Winter Weddings, and lots of giggles and sharing sweets with Maria Calton Photography and Nikki Ramsey Photography before our models for the day, Gabriel and Vivienne arrived just before we had lunch, and then set off around the grounds to take our photographs.

Knowing how and when to use flash, off camera flash and video lights (which I so want one of!) and knowing how quickly to get things done in the freezing cold. It was a great day!

I've never really played around with silhouettes so it was great to also try something different.


Moving inside, playing with angles and video lights! I love the affects you can creative. Its on my "must get" list for this year.

Back outside after we had adjusted to the temperature again, and some "veil toss" photographs. Easy to do and dramatic too. Seeing how its done makes it possible to do it at a Wedding without the bride and groom thinking your "practising" on them!

And sunset started, obviously during the daylight and summer months, it will take longer to get photographs of sunset, but sometimes they are blooming worth it!

Back inside and practising some more ore video light things...Seriously this light to me is awesome and better than off camera flash.

The group went outside at night, to take some nighttime venue photographs, unfortunately I was tripod less and the models were freezing so I took some hand-held snaps, but not the quality I would expect with a tripod which if I was doing them I'd have at a wedding.

I've done some bits with Chris before, and I have to say he's friendly and down to earth, and will share his knowledge and tips with you. His prices are great for what he offers, so photographers, of all levels, check out his training days!

Friday, 13 January 2012

Wedding Ideas Awards this Evening including Live Streaming!

So today is the big day. It’s the Wedding Idea’s Magazine Awards this evening and I am currently sat in First Class awaiting my Bacon Sandwich. I am nervous and excited all rolled into one. I’m going to see some old friends, some new friends, and looking forward to seeing the Herd! (And wondering how glam they all look! Lucinda & Pippa looked like they‘d stepped from Hollywood last year!)
I’ve actually put quite a bit of thought into my outfit. Its really weird. I’ve had my hair and make up done by the fabulous Kerry Morrell, and even had a trial which made most people think I was getting married.

I planned on having my dress made specially from a local dressmaker Donna, but I found the exact dress I wanted on Ebay. I’m a bit of a bargain hunter anyway! But it did take a couple of buying from different people due to wrong material or ill fitting!

When I got the right one, I took it to the dressmaker and she has made me my own net petticoat! My petticoat is beautiful! It is black net trimmed in teal satin! I love teal.

I’ve said for years that when I do get married I will have a white 50’s style dress with a teal tulle petticoat, and some awesome Rachel Simpson Shoes! I’ve also said Ill have Orange Gerbera’s and my theme will be Teal and Orange (because mainly I am a Sheffield Steelers fan!)

I have managed to find shoes, and a shrug in teal with a handbag that was perfect (and in the sale!) my nails are now painted a dark shade of teal on the train from Sheffield and we are awaiting to arrive in London St Pancras at 13:35. We will then probably just make a dash to the Hotel in a taxi and we are good to chill out and get ready to go!

I’m happy with the planning, and my outfit, I’m looking forward to spending a great day with some fabulous Wedding Industry people, mainly because it’s a great atmosphere and the Herd know to organise a “piss up in a Brewery” (luckily the venue is The Brewery!)
A fair few of us are staying at the Montcalm UK, a gorgeous gorgeous hotel that the Wedding Idea’s Team organised a great deal for us.

So we sit down at 7pm, and the Award ceremony starts at 9:15 including live streaming of the Awards which you can view at the website

It is just soooo blooming exciting! Will report back (with photographs taken with my compact camera) Probably on Monday! x

Thanks to everyone for their support. I really do appreciate it from each and everyone one of you xxx


Wednesday, 11 January 2012

{Real Bride Interview} Lianne Marie - The Anti Bride

I thought I would share with you a story of the Wedding Planning for one of my April Brides. Lianne Marie is like no other bride I have ever met before, not only does she write the superb Everything Goes With Toast, but she professes to be the most “un-bride like person” ever.

Lianne Marie, is also one of my friends, and we have started to refer to her as the “Anti-Bride”. Lianne Marie however, to me, is the epitome of having a wedding for yourself, and not conforming to what other people believe that you should do…

First of all we will start with some background.

The first time I met Lianne Marie & Darren. I'm not sure they have a photograph of them together where one or both aren't doing something silly!

How did you and the hubby to be meet?

Darren and I met at a speed dating event in Leeds at Henry’s bar in January 2009. I knew after 4 minutes of talking to him that he was special and I remember how excited I was when I learned the next day that we had both ticked “yes” after our speed date.

We went on our first date the next week – drinks at Baby Jupiter, dinner at Brown’s and then he walked me to a taxi rank and kissed me on the cheek like a perfect gentleman. I was walking on air the next day and texted him to ask if he fancied a second date.

Here is where I embarrass him horribly – he called me and said that he had already agreed to a second date with another lady from speed dating and wasn’t the kind of guy to date more than one woman at a time. Even though I was disappointed, I had to admire his honesty and how respectful he was towards women. He’s very close to his mum and sister and I think they have taught him well!

We had made friends on Facebook and parted on good terms, then in June I commented on his “I’m so hung over!” status and he confided that he’d made a stupid decision not to go out with me again and wondered if I’d be offended if he asked me out again. Obviously I jumped at the chance and we had a “second first date” the next week!

How did the proposal happen?

Because saying I Love You is over-rated
It didn’t... neither of us are particularly conventional people – for goodness sake we had two first dates, I first told him I loved him by writing it on his face in cake icing and licking it off again in a drunken stupor, we moved in together after only three months of dating... we’re not normal enough for a proposal!

We were talking about our future one day and when we wanted to have children, he told me that he’d like to get married first and eventually I agreed. Whilst I’m not against marriage, I and my feminist principles are easily irritated by women who desperately want to get married. If they’re in a relationship, in love and want to marry the person they’re with then that’s a wonderful, beautiful celebration of life and love.

But women who want to get married for the sake of getting married without there being a specific person in the picture I can’t really understand – do they settle for the first man who asks? Do they care more about being married than being with the person they’re with? I suspect so given the divorce rate is so high.

Personally whilst I’m honoured that Darren wants to marry me, I would happily stay with him without needing the validation of marriage. It won’t make me any more committed to him, or make my family accept him any more than they already do so what do I gain? (this is where friends tell me there are tax benefits!) Plus the money people spend on weddings and the stress they go through... I think people can forget that getting married is supposed to be a celebration of the love between two people and focusing on monogrammed napkins just seems trivial in comparison.

What is the ring like? 

It’s absolutely enormous and worth every penny he paid for it. Of course it’s not literally a ring – I asked for a new bathroom instead. I told you we’re not normal!

Lianne Marie loves having a bath, their house only had a shower before the Engagement.
Now Lianne Marie has her little blissful happy sanctuary. Diamonds are not a girl's best friend in this case. That would be Lush and a Bath instead.
Tell me about the Wedding?
The wedding ceremony will be held at
Leeds town hall in the afternoon and be family only on my side (I have a stupidly big family) and family and close friends on Darren’s side (he has a much smaller family and we didn’t want it to be lop-sided!). I will be walking down the aisle to David Bowie’s The Prettiest Star, we will sign the register to Depeche Mode’s Somebody and walk back down the aisle to The Prodigy’s Stand Up.

The fabulous, amazing, wonderful Adele will take pictures outside the town hall, and then Darren and I hope to escape for a quiet dinner somewhere without everyone gawking at us.

We will later join all our friends and family for a massive party at
Oracle in the evening where I have agreed to a first dance (but only because we have a song – Jack Johnson’s Better Together) and have spent literally half the wedding cost on a canapĂ© buffet because whilst I don’t want a structured dinner with place settings, I do want to make sure people have something to eat (The wedding is costing £2,000 including my dress, the ceremony admin costs, the wedding rings, the photography and the reception food)

I’m not interested in being a princess for the day, in having everyone stare at me or in being the centre of attention. I just want everyone to have a lovely day and be happy and not stress me out by expecting me to fit into some stereotypical bride mould.

Where are you getting your dress from? 

I went to Monsoon in my lunch hour, tried on one dress and bought it. It’s beautiful and simple, costs £240 and I don’t look like a meringue in it.

Lorton Trim Bridal Dress
Lianne's gorgeous dress!

Anything you are doing that you’ve not known anyone do before? 

I think it’s more a case of what are we NOT doing that we’ve known people do before. We’re not having a cake, or flowers, or speeches, or bridesmaids or a sit down dinner...

I wasn’t even going to have anyone walk me down the aisle because the feminist in me doesn’t feel that my father can “give me away” or that I will be Darren’s property in any way, but Daddy would cry if I didn’t let him! Plus, let’s be honest, with the shoes I’ll be wearing I don’t want to trip up and fall over so having someone to hang onto will be very practical.

(When asked about her shoes she replied “I’ve not picked them yet – it’s harder to commit to shoes than it is to a man for the rest of your life!” but she's looking at Christian louboutin’s!)

What are you looking forward to the most?

Truthfully – Adele taking the pictures.

I love Adele more than I can possibly express, she is a wonderful friend and a wonderful photographer. She was there the day I fell in love with him and licked the words from his head (she even took a photograph – among many photographs of us being incredibly drunk that day) and she should be there on the day I promise to love him forever.

I know that despite the simplicity of the day and my stubborn lack of interest in the wedding she will make it all look beautiful and magical. She has been incredibly supportive of me, listened to me and my frustration that ever since we decided to get married it is ALL ANYONE WANTS TO TALK TO ME ABOUT and my frustration that when someone asks me how the wedding plans are coming I say “what plans?” and freak them out by not being a raving bridezilla. It doesn’t make me a bad person you know...

Are you going on honeymoon?

Of course! I have loved Paris my entire life and am looking forward to sharing it with Darren. If only I could take Adele with me!

Despite Darren wanting a traditional wedding and Lianne wanting to run away screaming, they’ve been able to compromise and plan a day that reflects nothing but the fact that they love each other and want to share that love with their families.

It’s a no-frills wedding in a funky setting – they even sent out the invites on Facebook, and announced the proposal there to

They are one of the funniest and special couples whom I know and I’m more than delighted to be sharing their special day with them, if only I can stop them from being silly for one minute, or stop Darren getting drunk after two Newcastle Brown Ales so I can get some nice pictures!

Friday, 6 January 2012

{Ask Me} Wedding Budgeting

{Ask Me} is a new thing we are running for 2012 on the Blog. It is for people to leave us questions on the blog as comments, or on facebook and twitter and we will dedicate a blog to answering these questions where we can. Where we cannot answer the questions themselves, I will try and find someone who can!

Today is all about Wedding Budgeting.

Once the Engagement ring is on and you decide to start planning the Wedding, you will find it hard to stick to any budget or plans without a detailed Wedding Budget. This will give you a great starting point and what you should be spending on each item.
I found this (but cannot find it again to link to it) as a friend was discussing, “How much should I spend and Budget on things?”
These are rough percentages and are estimates. Something you can spend less on, and spend more on something else, but this is a rough guide to how and what you should be spending with a few examples too.

Location fee, registrar fee, marriage license fee:               3%
Reception Venue, Drinks, Food, Cake, Favours:            48%
Dress, Headpiece/veil, undergarments, shoes,
Accessories, Hair & Makeup, Suit, cufflinks            10%
His & Her Rings, Engraving if needed                      3%
Bride Bouquet, Bridemaids, Button Holes,                      8%
& Centerpieces
Ceremony Music, Band or DJ                                         8%
Photographer fee's albums, additional prints etc               12%
Transport of the Wedding Party                                      2%
Invitations, RSVPs, Thank you notes, Postage                3%
Bridesmaids and Groomsmens, and Parents                    3%

As these are only rough estimations, but a good starting point, we will look through a few budgets to have a look at how much you should, or could be spending.

On a Tight Budget:            £2500
Ceremony:                            £75
Reception:                            £1200
Attire:                                   £250
Rings:                                   £75
Flowers:                               £200
Music:                                  £200
Photographer:                       £300
Transportation:                     £50
Stationery:                            £75
Gifts:                                    £75

I have photographed some small mid-week Weddings, I have done 2-hours photography, and then they have chosen albums or prints further down the line, how I do the same for Brides who are getting married for Full Day etc.

Some choose to go for a meal with just close family, rather than a reception itself. So that could even still save some money.

Remember that your Wedding is not just for everyone else, you have to remember what it means deep inside.

On a Budget:                     £5000
Ceremony:                           £150
Reception:                           £2400
Attire:                                  £500
Rings:                                  £150
Flowers:                              £400
Music:                                 £400
Photographer:                      £600
Transportation:                    £100
Stationery:                           £150
Gifts:                                   £150

A Bigger Budget:              £10000
Ceremony:                           £300
Reception:                           £2480
Attire:                                  £1000
Rings:                                  £300
Flowers:                              £800
Music:                                 £800
Photographer:                     £1200
Transportation:                    £200
Stationery:                           £300
Gifts:                                   £300

At a Wedding, you have to understand, and realise what is important to you regardless of your budget. If you want to spend more on a Dress and Suit but spend less on flowers or stationery, then do that. If you want to spend more on your photographer, and not do XYZ then that’s entirely upto you.

These budgets are just a starting point, an example. Look at your budget right at the beginning of your Wedding and then look and discuss and have a realistic idea of what you should be spending and where.

Hitched Wife  have a budget statistics section for Weddings. Thus shows the Wedding Budgets in 2010, showing that the majority of Couples are spending between £5000 and £10000

This shows that in 2010, people were more likely to go over their budget, than they were in 2009. This is the country that is meant to have been in a recession, also people just may not have set a realistic budget to start with.

When you are starting the plans, and are just Engaged, before you set a date, visit a Wedding Fayre or two. Collect leaflets, look at prices, and take it from there. Setting a realistic budget when you know how much things realistically cost, are a good starting point, even if you know you may get it cheaper elsewhere.

Budgeting, is not easy. Whether its your Wedding Budget or your hosuehold budget. This is what we have to think of.

Make a budget. Stick to it the best you can. And spend on what you feel is the most important part of your Wedding.

Thursday, 5 January 2012

My Definition of Love....

Wiki defines love as
"Love is an emotion of strong affection and personal attachment. Love is also a virtue representing all of human kindness, compassion, and affection; and "the unselfish loyal and benevolent concern for the good of another".

Being in Love to me, is when that feeling inside of you feels like you are going to burst, that you have to see and tell someone what you are thinking and feeling or you may actually die of all that pent up energy and excitement inside of you.

Being in Love is still feeling the same inside, as you did within the first few weeks together, a smile on your face when you are talking, or writing about the person who makes you feel like this.

Being in Love, is missing not spending every waking moment with them, but knowing, and loving them enough to allow independace.

Love for friends, is knowing that you have their back, through the tough moments, and the better moments. That you know you can tell them when they are being ridiculous - but also when you know you can tell them when things are hard.

Love means more than just being In Love...its about being complete..

Wedding Photography: The Disc we supply

For our Wedding Photography we supply a slideshow of images set to music and an online gallery.

This is so that your guests can enjoy the images, but also that you can watch your day on the TV like a video.

This slideshow disc, is a locked disc, of low resolution images that you can play on your computer/laptop or TV to review your Wedding Day.

We do not give high resolution images on disc in with our prices. These are available to purchase as a standalone product with no album, or alternatively, with an album.

We try and aim to give you the best service that we can possibly do, this is why our singular digital files are more expensive than some of our prints.

An example of our DVD Slideshow presentation

So why don’t we give you them?
Well as we do not do packages, we like to make sure your photographs are supplied in a way that shows of the quality of the work produced. There is no point in paying for a photographer and getting the items printed at Asda or Boots (there is nothing wrong with the printing from these places but they just do not give you the love, care, colour representation or quality as professional labs that we use as photographers).

If we just gave you the disc of images, we would have to charge you a LOT more, and not everyone wants a disc of images, some people want an album some people don’t. Blue Lights Photography is all about CHOICE for you!

Tuesday, 3 January 2012

My Childhood Dreams...

So it has come to my attention from reading Amy's blog that there is a 30 posts in 30 days thing going for January. Whilst I dont fancy doing them all on my business blog, I thought I would include some of the topics they have been given to write about for some blog posts so that you, my readers, brides and fellow Wedding Industry people can get to know me a little better.

My childhood dreams.

When I was little I was going to be a nurse (for some reason I didnt want to be a doctor) or I was going to be a vet and help all the poorly little animals. Or I was going to be a teacher to help people who were stuck. What I wanted to do was something that helped people. That was what seemed to be the main focus point for whatever Job I wanted to do.

When I went to college, I did the subjects that suited me, the ones I found interesting but didnt particularly go together. Then it seemed to be more towards the teaching. By this point I had realised that the exams I needed to pass for being a Vet or a Nurse werent my strongest a teacher it was going to be. Not just that but Physics teacher!

Now...I even looked into universities, and what grades I could get away with being the lowest I could be accepted. Even considering Dundee. But realistically, I wanted to help people, I wasnt happy at College, at all. And by the hands of fate changed timetables, the inability to work and support myself through college (because why should my parents pay for everything) and being 19 meant I couldnt get any help. I ended up dropping out of my 3rd year of College.

Somehow I didnt know that that would be one of the best decisions for me and one that eventually set me on the road to where I am today...
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