If religion doesn’t play a big part in your life my advice is to go for a civil ceremony. You’ll have much more freedom with your vows and what is or is not said. You also have a much more varied choice of venue too…
From Stately homes to castles, farms to hotels, museums to warehouses, zoos to lighthouses and even converted churches. With the extra freedom comes the opportunity to inject more of your personality into your day. Registrars tend to be a lot more relaxed about photography too. I’ve worked with a few over the years who have even preemptively moved out of the way ready for the first kiss!
There is a huge amount of choice when it comes to wedding venues with a wedding licence. And one benefit of choosing a more traditional venue is that they’ll have plenty of experience in hosting weddings. So, it doesn’t matter if you go down the celebrant or legal wedding route, they’ll know what to expect and are used to dealing with large numbers of guests.
I’d love the opportunity to photograph more ceremonies from other religions and cultures, variety is the spice of life afterall. However for now I’ll stick to what I have experience of… Which is mostly Christian weddings.
If you’re religious then I can imagine it’s a pretty straight forward decision to get married in a church, for example. Churches vary greatly. Not just in terms of denomination, but in size, style, amount of natural light and attitude towards photography during the ceremony.
The internet is full of horror stories from photographers who have either been told to stand at the back or haven’t been allowed to take photographs at all. The vast majority of Church weddings I’ve photographed the Vicars have been lovely. Although I have been told, “if I see you, I’ll throw you out!”. He definitely saw me but he didn’t throw me out – so, I’m hoping it was a joke. I have recently put one Vicar on my “will not work with” list because he’s been rude to guests on multiple occasions and actually upset a couple with his attitude on their wedding day. He’s also particularly anti-photographers. One since 2014 isn’t too bad though. However, if you’re planning a church wedding, it’s always worth double-checking to see what their rules on photography are.
I’ve been to some gorgeous church weddings over the years. The best ones are the ones that the couple have a real connection to the church or vicar. They might have grown up going to the church, or their parents got married there. That’s what makes it special – it’s the emotional connection, the sense of history and being part of something bigger.