Wedding Photography in the Age of Coronavirus/COVID-19
Coronavirus and the COVID-19 pandemic has caused worldwide chaos and an unprecedented way of working, not least with wedding photography. With governmental guidance changing weekly and being different in England and Wales, I’m not going to list the governmental rules – for those visit the official sites:
I aim to guide you through some common situations at the ceremony venue from a photographer’s perspective. Read on for my guide to having your wedding photographed in the age of Coronavirus as well as my advice and tips.
So How Has Photographing Weddings Changed?
Not only do we have to abide by governmental restrictions, but we also need to be aware of the differences between venues, particularly for civil marriages. Every register office county and borough has its own take on what makes a wedding safe from the risk of contracting Coronavirus, and you and your photographer will have to abide by this:
Register Offices and Civil Marriage Venues in England and Wales
I’ve photographed many weddings since the lockdown restrictions were eased and have to relearn new rules every time I photograph a wedding. Rules in one venue may contradict those at another and some districts are more flexible than at others. Generally, the registrars understand the balance that needs to be struck between safety and your memories of the day.
Some Covid-19 Wedding Photography Rules and Restrictions that You Might Encounter
- You may have to arrive at the venue together.
- The couple and guests might need to arrive at the venue at the time of the ceremony, not before as previously.
- Parking may not be provided outside as usual.
- Some spaces (including gardens or toilets) might be closed to you.
- Social distancing will be observed, with seats spaced out accordingly.
- Marriage certificates could be posted out to you after the ceremony.
- The photographer could have to stand (or even be seated) in one place and not move at any time.
- Registrars/officiants may wear personal protective equipment (PPE) at all times.
- There may be markings on the floor to indicate where to stand or move to.
- The number of guests will be reduced from normal.
- Your photographer may be included in the guest numbers.
- Wedding rings can be exchanged but may not be handled by registration staff.
- Signing pens may be cleansed or changed between each signature.
- Ceremonies will invariably be shorter with no option for readings or music.
Non-secular Venues Such as Churches
Many of the above points also apply to churches and other non-religious venues. I’ve found that some vicars and priests can be more flexible than registrars. But others not so much. It’s good advice for you to speak with your church contact beforehand to let them know how important wedding photography is on your special day.
The rules and regulations sent to you prior to your wedding day may not necessarily be what you are faced with on the day. Some venues are more flexible than others, so if you are really unhappy about something, do ask. If you feel the venue is being unnecessarily strict about any aspect of their Coronavirus rules, try to negotiate. It doesn’t always work, but is worthwhile when it does.
Read More>> Ultimate Guide to Wedding Photography
How I Approach The ‘New Normal’ for Wedding Photography
I don’t particularly like being restricted going about my work (who does?) but I’m always keen to make the best of the situation. And it’s very important to me that you have the best experience and have some beautiful wedding photos to look back on.
So I like to check if there is flexibility with any rules that the officiants set out. There often is.
Remember though: Their say is final and often dictated by law. You and your photographer have to abide by this.
Where COVID-19 Restrictions Clash with Common Sense and What Wedding Couples Choose to do About This
The wedding is probably the most important day of your like, comparable only to the birth of a child. Brides and Grooms now have to choose carefully which of their loved ones to invite. Small venues especially are very limited with the amount of guests they allow. This presents obvious problems:
Who do you invite and who gets left out? Obviously close family will come first, but then there’s the wedding day and your approach regarding social distancing. Chances are, you won’t have seen much of your nearest and dearest due to lockdown and more recent restrictions. So you’ll have a massive need to show your love – hug, kiss, hold hands and just generally be close…
What to do? Before and after the ceremony, it’s largely up to you – the law around social distancing accepted. Some couples choose to respect the guidelines on distancing out of concern for ‘at risk’ guests. Others self-isolate in the couple of weeks before the day, to maximise safety, whilst still other couples ignore the guidelines altogether…
Whatever you choose to do, my job is to document your wedding day and everything that happens as naturally and comprehensively as possible. I’m a photographer and I don’t judge, I just love to take meaningful and emotive photographs of wedding days. For me, the more hugs and kisses that go on (as above), the better, but please do BE SAFE!
How Coronavirus Might Affect Your Wedding Photos in Other Ways
It’s not just the national guidance and individual venue restrictions such as social distancing that might dictate how your wedding photographs look. All over England and Wales, safety signage and hygiene stations have been popping up in the street and inside public buildings.
Signage often includes tape or marks on the floor to indicate where couples, their guests and the photographer need to stand and where they cannot go, making wedding ceremony rooms look a little like a police crime scene!
There is also now the common presence of perspex screens to separate the wedding party from the registrars. With the registrars also wearing face coverings or visors, these elements all combine to give your wedding photos a very different look.
As a reportage wedding photographer, I embrace these strange elements of our time, and they will be a reminder of the way things were when you tied the knot. Most are difficult to get away from and compose out of the images, although the occasional sign is easy to edit out. Masks and floor tape are not, so will appear in the final edit.