Wedding Photography in the Age of Coronavirus/COVID-19
(**Since this was written, the restrictions on COVID-19 across the UK have relaxed, however, some venues are maintaining some restrictions for the foreseeable future. Do contact the appropriate venue for further information.**
Coronavirus and the COVID-19 pandemic have 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 everyday situations at the ceremony venue from a photographer’s perspective. Read on for my guide on wedding photography 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 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 had to relearn new rules every time I photograph a wedding. Regulations in one venue may contradict those at another, and some districts are more flexible than others. But, generally, the registrars understand the balance that needs skriking 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.
- The registrar may post your marriage certificate 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.
- The number of guests will be restricted.
- The venue may include your photographer in the guest numbers.
- You can exchange wedding rings, but the registration staff will not handle them.
- 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. For example, I’ve found that some vicars and priests can be more flexible than registrars. But others not so much. So 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.
Before your wedding day, the rules and regulations sent to you may not necessarily be what faces you on the day. Some venues are more flexible than others, so if you are unhappy about something, do ask. If you feel the venue is unnecessarily strict about any aspect of their Coronavirus rules, try to negotiate. It doesn’t always work, but it 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 restriction whilst going about my work (who does?), but I’m always keen to make the best of the situation. And it’s 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 life, comparable only to the birth of a child. However, brides and Grooms now have to choose carefully which of their loved ones to invite. Small venues especially are very limited to the number of guests they allow, presenting obvious problems:
Who do you invite, and who gets left out? The close family usually comes 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 generally be close.
What to do? Before and after the ceremony, it’s 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 a couple of weeks before the day to maximise safety, and some 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 take meaningful and emotive photographs of wedding days. So 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 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, guests, and photographers 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 familiar presence of perspex screens to separate the wedding party from the registrars. With the registrars wearing face coverings or visors, these elements 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 how things were when you tied the knot. Most are difficult to get away from and keep out of the images, although the occasional sign is easy to edit out. Masks and floor tape are not, so they will probably appear in the final edit.