I love photographing Church Weddings. I love the history, the architecture and all the beautiful stained glass. It absolutely makes for beautiful Wedding Photography.
However, not all of the clergy share the enthusiasm that Churchs make beautiful Wedding Photography. Some believe that photographers are there to get in the way and that the service is a detailed and religious ceremony that does not need to be photographed.
Not all Churchs have a resident Vicar, so you may deal with the churchwarden whilst planning your Wedding. Sometimes the churchwarden may tell you that there are to be no photographs during the service, some may tell you that there is an additional charge to allow photography, and some may tell you that photography is always welcome.
Sometimes, the covering Vicar may have his own rules and regulations that they follow in their church regarding photography, and unless you have it definitely signed that photographs are allowed - please make sure the covering Vicar is also aware of this as they may not allow photographs during their own Wedding Ceremonies.
I always try and go to a church rehearsal so I can ask any photography related questions and then we all know what is fully happening and allowed on the day. And if the Vicar says no to photography in its total - then it can be discussed in further depth.
So, why am I bringing this up?
Well at one of the last church Weddings I photographed, they didn't have a church rehearsal as the covering Vicar didn't believe in them. The couple had told me all along about how they were allowed photographs in church and if I wanted to see the church beforehand I just had to contact the Church Warden or the Canon. I respected that like most churches, there would only be one or two places I could be, and weather dependant there wasn't anything I needed to see in Church.
On the day of the Wedding, I found the Vicar (with 5 minutes to go, he was hiding in the back) and he told me "No photography at all during the service" I personally knew this to be incorrect as they had already discussed it with me at length, I had no option but to inform the Groom (who thought I was joking) and ask the Best Man to join me in a chat with the Vicar about 2 minutes before the bride was to walk down the aisle.
I wouldn't normally "argue" with a Vicar, however the couple had been so insistent that photography during the service was fine, that they didn't have any problems, wouldn't have booked there if they had said no to photographs as they want them to remember their Wedding by, that I knew I had to do something.
The Vicar told me that no "sneaky" ones either, and if he saw me he would ask me to leave. After myself, and the best man pleading - he decided to let me do what was decided between myself and the Clergy who was at the back of the church.
So I took photographs from the back. I was unobtrusive and I have a super thankful bride and groom (and brides mummy too), but I shouldn't have been in that situation - and neither should the Best Man - and it's not something I should have had to pass on to an already nervous Groom.
I know the Bride is going to make a complaint as she is unhappy as what she was told - but it's sad that such an amazing part of most services can be spoilt by different Vicars rules.
So please, if you are planning a Church Wedding, make sure if you want Photography in church, you ask the questions before you book, you get it in writing, and you make sure that everyone knows what has been said - including any stand in Clergy.
I hope my last Church Wedding in September is a better - but we should be fine - there will be a church rehearsal!