Listen to my clients; I'm not just a wedding photographer...
It’s not often you get to book your wedding photographer three times…but I did just that!
I actually booked John Brandwood for my own wedding before I’d even met John Brandwood…..why you ask? I trawled the internet and then the wedding fairs and quite simply I fell in love with one picture that absolutely took my breath away. It was a lot like picking your wedding dress, you just know it’s the one, nothing compares…. and I just knew in that moment that whoever produced that picture had to be special and unique. But, It’s not just the photographs that make John so special, he was so much more than my photographer and without him my wedding day would not have run so smoothly; without him I would now not have someone I am proud to call a dear friend.
So, nine years later when my baby sister was getting married, I also knew that there was only one man for the job. But although I knew, John would not let me book him until he also knew that my sister and husband were as comfortable and happy in his presence than I had been…..and of course they were. From my sister’s wedding came the booking of my brother’s wedding, as by the end of my sisters big day my brother had asked me to contact John straight away as he wanted to cancel the photographer they had already booked and have John instead…..yes, he really does have that effect!! I now have one sister left to get married and I know that when she does, John will play a part of her important day too in the capacity as both photographer and guest..…we would not consider anybody else.
There are so many reasons to book John and writing this has been difficult because my words will never be able to capture effectively what John is all about. If my text was one of John’s photographs it would do just that….. It would speak a thousand more words that would make you book John straight away. It would tell you of his honour, his kindness, his integrity and the sheer brilliance he has in capturing a moment that will stay with you forever. The story of John would say stop searching for the one to capture your special day, because you have found him.
You don’t just take a photograph, you make it!
Plan a Wedding in Three Weeks?
As a professional couple, when our shower leaks, we call a plumber (or in our house I do). If the lights stop working, we call an electrician. Every project has a specialist in their field, so when it comes to planning a wedding you want someone to advise you who has been to / been part of hundreds if not thousands and has the scars to prove it!
Who gets to be involved in the planning, execution and aftermath of a wedding, the photographer? They see you in the first flush of engagement, through the harried planning stages and finally to the most important day of your life. They are involved in all aspects of the day from dressing and hair and make-up, to ceremony, photo set ups to dinner, speeches, dancing and cake cutting; the photos they take become your memories to last a lifetime.
So when my boyfriend proposed on 2nd February 2014, we knew with zero experience in the ‘planning wedding’ department we needed serious help, especially when we wanted to have our wedding in August 2013 when family were on a pre-planned visit from Peru! Queue the sharp intake of breath from everyone who thinks this is nigh on impossible. Ignore the naysayers, it can be done and with minimal fuss.
Our budget is controlled, we want to maximise its value to us on the day, not on wedding planners, so how did we manage to arrange and book the whole thing in exactly 3 weeks?
Answer: we used John Brandwood Weddings!
John has provided us with nuggets of information which any normal human being would not consider; rushed ties are out, as are large buttonholes and getting married in a different venue to the reception brings additional problems unless executed with military precision (more on this later).
From start to finish John has been a fountain of knowledge on things we just hadn’t considered. His experience in planning and executing so many weddings has left him with a grand list of what not to do, and what to do well!
The single most important decision (after saying yes of course) is the venue; approximately a third to half of your budget goes on it so how do you ensure you have the right one for you? When we spoke with John we had 2 criteria, proximity to church and provision for people to stay over. You can scour the internet looking at options and view the very lovely ‘dressed’ images, but there is nothing like seeing how it ‘behaves’ when presented with real people inside it. John has been accommodating in showing us photos of locations and advising timings to make the most of our guests before we lose them to the party!
For example; If hotels only check in from 2pm the second I do is said, there is a stampede for check in and you lose all your guests; so get formal photos done at the church or allow time before the wedding for check in! Equally important are the casual shots taken over drinks which needs 1-1.5 hours in the venue, who knew!
Next up outfits; again John gave me a suit hire company and wedding dress shop; both were done in 2 hours. John has heard feedback from brides and been there when they are crying and being sewn into their dresses on the day due to failed alterations and zips so can be brutally honest for what is the most important and expensive dress you will ever buy. Rushed ties; never look good on photos and your men spend all day adjusting to no avail, just don’t even bother!
Flowers, cake, centre pieces, band, hairdresser, chair covers; John has a plethora of knowledge and experience of local suppliers and will be honest, after all if he recommends someone his reputation is as much on the line as theirs is if they don’t deliver.
Our faith has reaped dividends, 3 weeks later and our wedding is booked. We have not had to build relationships with the suppliers; we built a relationship with John and trust his expertise and recommendations.
Simply put, you cannot ‘re-do’ your wedding day; the photos taken are priceless. Priceless needs experience, empathy and understanding to execute; for this you need a professional; for us this was John Brandwood.
Our local suppliers:
The Inn at Whitewell, Clitheroe
Claire Louise Brides, Bolton
Slaters Menswear Manchester
Hair; John-Lee Guy, Bolton
Flowers; The Gilded Lily, Chorley
Room dressing; SJ Enterprises, Chorley
Entertainment; The Rush band, Manchester
Charlotte & Andrew
Gary and Fiona Jamieson
‘We didn’t have a Wedding Coordinator, we had John Brandwood Wedding Photography.’ That’s quite an endorsement as it stands, but when I tell you that Gary Jamieson began his wedding day speech with that ringing endorsement, you can assume that The Happy Couple were well pleased with the service they had received. It wasn’t a knee-jerk gesture in respect of John’s contribution on the Special Day, either.
‘We thought of it in advance’, Gary says. Which is a bewildering thing to say, on the face of it: I mean, how many people rave about their photographer before they’ve seen the fruits of his darkroom? ‘Oh, he’s much more than a photographer’ Gary adds, reading my mind. Fiona picks up the story.
‘We wanted a Christmas wedding at The Inn at Whitewell’, she says, (and there’s nothing impulsive about that given that you need to book at least 18 months in advance). ‘We couldn’t get into the Inn until 2.30, so everything had to be timed to hit that target. I don’t know where we would have been without John.’
‘He must have done hundreds of weddings’ Gary continues, ‘whereas I hope I’ll only ever have one! And I think it’s that knowledge of how long things really take that made John invaluable to us.’
Fiona met John at a Bridal Fair in Manchester and reported enthusiastically to Gary that she’d found the ideal photographer. ‘I loved his pictures’ Fiona says ‘and he was offering the same service as another photographer we looked at who was charging almost double.’
‘Not that we decided on price alone’ Gary insists, ‘to be honest, there was a sort of warmth about John that we responded to and we thought that having him around on our wedding day would be fun. He felt almost like a part of the family by the time we’d said ‘I do’.’
But it wasn’t until that task of planning the day’s events was at hand that the couple realised that they’d discovered a gem. ‘It wasn’t just the timings’, Gary remembers. ‘He got us to consider things that we just wouldn’t have thought of. He reminded us that although we’d have photographs, there would be no record of the actual speeches. As I say, that never crossed my mind but we’re both so pleased that we hired the videographer.