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Chapter 6

Ultimate Guide to

Wedding Confetti & Congratulations Photography

Presenting Mr & Mrs –  Confetti and Congratulations


Confetti Shower Outside Southwark Register Office

The confetti shower and subsequent congratulations is a dynamic time where anything can happen.  It will keep your photographer thinking on their feet.

Exiting the venue as husband and wife is the only part of your day where your wedding photographer may be strict with what needs to be done and the time scale. There will be so much you want to do yet time constraints will likely prove limiting. At this time, everyone will be vying for your attention, wanting to give you congratulatory hugs and good wishes for your future together.

Camden Town Hall Confetti Guns

The guests at Martina and Ambrogio’s Camden Town Hall wedding were issued with confetti cannons. They suited the couple’s colourful personalities…

Setting Up for the Venue Exit & Confetti Photography Sequence

The moment you leave the venue into the bright daylight to be showered in confetti by an avenue of guests isn’t quite as seamless as it seems.  It takes a little time for the photographer to set this up, sometimes aided by a registrar. Churches and register offices differ in how they work and this affects the running slightly.

Morden Park House Confetti Procession

Rachel and David’s wedding was at Morden Park House (AKA Merton Register Office) in South London. The venue allows confetti which made for a great sequence of shots.

The Confetti Sequence

The confetti (where allowed) is usually thrown soon after you exit the venue.  In register offices it is usually the guests who leave the building first.  The registrars may give time in the ceremony room for congratulations and I make the best use of this (covered below).  This all depends on the time between weddings.  Some town hall’s are exceptionally busy, especially on Saturdays where things are rushed slightly.

Chelsea Old Town Hall Wedding Confetti

Confetti is a big part of the final stages of a Chelsea Old Town Hall wedding. With such an iconic facade in the background, it makes for some wonderful photography.

In a church you will probably exit first and may need to return inside whilst the photographer organises your guests.  In other venues, you will probably hang back for everyone to assemble outside.  This often gives the couple a few minutes to collect their thoughts and talk about what just happened!

Guests Blowing Bubbles at Castle Coch Wedding

Confetti is not allowed at weddings at Castell Coch near Cardiff. Bubbles are now a popular and affective alternative.

When a Photographer’s Assertive Side Comes Into Play

Your photographer should then organise your guests into an aisle with each side facing each other. I ask everyone to throw the confetti as the couple go by, to maintain as much as possible in the air. I beckon the newly-weds out and they exit the venue in a whirl of colourful paper. Using a wide angle lens and walking backwards away from the couple, I’m right in the middle of the action. I try not to walk into anyone or fall over, although this has happened!

With bubbles, I ask everyone to fill the air as much as possible before the happy couple walk out to maximise the effect.

Gay wedding at Fitzrovia Chapel - Sparklers instead on confetti

For winter weddings in the dark, sparkles are an option too as at this gay wedding at the Fitzrovia Chapel in London.

Tip: Always ask the venue as some do not allow paper confetti but allow bio-degradable products such as petals. Some venues may have been warned by the council about litter violations, so it is important to abide by their rules. Where confetti is not allowed, bubbles have become popular and can look effective in photographs.

Bubbles Confetti at Old Marylebone Town Hall

Lindsay and Greg were spoiled somewhat: They had both petals and bubbles on their exit from the register office.

Tip: Try colour coordinating your confetti. If you’re having a purple wedding, choose confetti that compliments this. If there is any left over, it may look good sprinkled over the dinner tables.

Family Hug at Porchester Hall Marriage

Bride Rebecca hugs new husband Kolbe’s mum as he looks on. Unusually, this happened halfway through the ceremony. Their wedding was a very tactile affair with plenty of hugging and kissing – great for photography!

Congratulations and Kisses

When your guests finally get to congratulate you depends largely on the running of the day.  Often it’s in the ceremony room after a register office wedding.  Sometimes it’s after the confetti and occasionally it’s not until the drinks reception – at hotels this is often straight after the confetti anyway.

Congratulations at Westminster Register Office Wedding

I love this one: Not only is the groom’s friend clearly emotional, his mum and dad have decided they want a hug on the right of the frame. Maybe congratulating each other on a job well done!

Difficulties with Photographic Unpredictability

This time is probably the most unpredictable of the day.  Hugging shots are amazingly difficult to take and to take well.  The photographer needs to work fast to capture as many emotive moments as possible.  The Bride and Groom generally separate at this time and receive good wishes from family and friends in different places.  It’s good practice to concentrate mainly on the bride, but some of the groom is good too.

Happy Bride Hugging Family Member

This is bride Emma receiving a hug from her sister. From a photographic point of view I like it, but is it flattering? It certainly captures the moment though.

I’ve no idea whether or not Emma liked the above photo.  It’s one of those that I considered not including in the final edit but then thought it a shame not to.  If she liked it, great!  If not she never has to show another person.  The problem in taking shots like this is that it’s a natural moment…  A snapshot in time…  With stills photography, facial expression matters.  But so do context and emotion.  This photo has both of those, although the facial expression (or flattery factor) could be better…  Flattery factor?  Maybe I’ve just coined a phrase!!

Below is a selection of other natural greeting shots.  I like them all but you decide whether you do…

Congratulating the Newly-weds in Marylebone

This is a wider photo which gives more context – there’s certainly plenty going on. The light’s good and it’s colourful too. A generally pleasing photograph.

Bride Mum Kissing Daughter with Groom Watching

She was the most gorgeous bridesmaid ever! Newly-wed Charlotte kisses her daughter and it’s not quite clear who’s congratulating who!

Groom and father Kissing Bridesmaid

A similar shot taken at Celtic Manor Resort in Newport. This time it’s the groom kissing his bridesmaid daughter. Neither knew I was taking it.

Hugging After Marriage Ceremony

With hugging comes faces resting on shoulders. This can cause distortion but who cares?? It’s two friends in the moment.

Bridegroom Being Congratulated by Guests at Pencoed House Cardiff

From the Groom’s point of view now. More manly, more hand-shakey but just as fun.

Congratulations at Wedding Photography

This garden was largely in shade but some fill flash rectified that. It helps that the bride leaves herself open without wrapping her arms around the guest.

Bride Hugging Female Guest After Marriage Ceremony

Good window light and bright colours give this hugging photo a pleasing look.

Bride Touching Toddler on Cheek

A few moments later:  This was the first time Paloma had ever met her best friend’s daughter. The little girl isn’t doing much, but her steady eye contact and slight smile really make the photo.  A very special moment indeed!

Groom Shakes Hand of Guest After Marriage Ceremony

Another groom’s handshake. It’s a shame that a photograph doesn’t capture sound. I often look at wedding photos and wonder what they were saying.

Bride excitedly greeting a friend outside church in Crystal Palace

The moment before two people hug is often photographically better than the hug itself…

Setting Up for Congratulations Shots

Sometimes there’s a chance to direct where the couple stand for these meetings and greetings.  Often, it’s as the guests are leaving the church (as below).  If the spot they choose isn’t the best for me, I might suggest they turn slightly or stand facing the light.  This is one of the few moments of manipulation a reportage photographer should give.

Bride and Groom hugging guests outside church

When I manage to capture both newly-weds in clinches with guests it’s all the better. Here they are hugging Sarah’s parents.

Post Wedding Hand Shaking at Southwark Register Office

The couple often naturally greet people in a line as they exit the venue. I’m always on the lookout for different photo opportunities.

Chapter 7: Posed Photographs – To please the In-laws? – Next>>>>

<<<<Previous – Chapter 5: Signing the Register – Rules vs. Discretion

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Bride at Old Marylebone Town Hall Signing the Register

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Wedding Photographer in Cardiff & London

Guy Milnes Photography is based between London and Caerphilly covering South Wales, Bristol, London and the home counties.
He has been a professional photographer since 2008 and loves to capture the true atmosphere of the wedding day as it unfolds naturally.


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